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Another Portland Blog

Wednesday, September 14, 2005



Over the years I've been harassed by the police. I've had my property confiscated by the police and I've been tear gassed (twice) by the police. I was once dragged out of Wilson High School by two policemen moments before I was going to head on stage in a police uniform during a dress rehersal. I've watched friends go to jail over misunderstandings and for the smallest of infractions. Petty traffic offenses and parking tickets have cost me over $850 in the last year alone. It should be pretty obvious that I feel more scorn than admiration every every time a squad car passes me by.

I respect police officers for their willingness to work in what must be the most stressful career field out there, Regardless, over the years they've become glorified revenue collectors for their municipalities. Can I back that statement up with a fact? Nope.

Still, I'm convinced that the boys in blue are more interested in making easy money by pulling over people like me for "California stops" than going after real criminals. To twist around an old cliche: there's never a cop around when you need one but there's sure to a black & white nearby when you're in the middle of doing something stupid.

But all this apprehension took a sharp 180 about twelve hours ago.

At 11 AM this morning a man arrived on my parents doorstep pretending to be a pollster. My sister and their senile springer spaniel guard dog were upstairs. He rang the door numerous times. She headed down to investigate and opted not to open the door. He left.

Five minutes later he returned, opened the mail slot and peered around. Then he broke out a screwdriver and tried to pry open the locks. My sister called 911, and in a moment of rage-filled panic, punched the door and shouted "WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?" The springer spaniel, meanwhile, was napping peacefully on the couch upstairs.

The would-be thief turned tail and disappeared into the park across the street. Within minutes three PPD squad cars were parked out front. I made it over there in time to watch a German Shepherd in a yellow vest sniff around the property before chasing after a scent in the park. After stopping for a potty break on a nearby bush, it dragged one of Portland's finest over to the parking lot. The wannabe thief had presumably taken off in car. This same guy may be responsible for a series of break-ins elsewhere in the neighborhood.

The thief busted open the lock on the doorknob. There's no telling what would have happened if my sister had been asleep upstairs or listening to her iPod. One officer claimed he would have taken off the second he discovered someone in the house but all the cop dramas and Le Tigre songs I've absorbed over the years suggest otherwise.

Will this guy make another attempt at robbing my parents? Doubtful. Still the event will keep us all paranoid in the weeks to come. I'm already worried about the vulnerability of my own residence. Will security lights and that Brink's sticker on the front door really scare away Portland's meth-crazed sociopaths bent on stealing my worthless Macintosh and $8 Darth Tater?

Everyone's safe but unsound and our peace of mind has been officially shot to hell. And this isn't the first time we've gone through this sort of thing. Last year someone attempted to break into her Eugene triplex before he headed across the street and broke into a neighbor's house while they were sleeping. Years back, a burglar attempted to pry open a basement window at my parent's place before he headed next door, tried the same trick on a sliding glass door and was promptly tackled by the home-owner. My car has been stolen twice and I'm still angry about the bike tire that was stolen outside of my dorm six years ago.

It may be time to invest in a very large dog, a very large gun or a very large dog that knows how to operate a very large gun.

At least one good thing came out of this miserable little incident: my faith in local law enforcement has been rejuvenated. I wish I had gotten the names of the officers who investigated and that German Shepherd so I could thank them here. Cops are now A-OK in my book.

Or least most cops. I'm still not too keen on the traffic variety.

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