The  Beat: True Stories From the Streets

Page 5  Stories by Harry Martin Polis
              Artwork by Jaynee Levy-Polis
 

BET YOUR BUTT (AN IMAGINARY INTERVIEW)
by Harry Martin Polis
 Senator Barnscum, I would like to interview you on the issues of our schools, random shootings, and the state of our nation today. 

Senator:  Let me say this about that.  As long as I am not effected, or shot at, and as long as my cronies or family are not effected, I see no reason to really change the status quo, or outlaw guns.  We here in the Senate can have armed guards protect us from the crazies roaming the streets today.  You can bet your butt that if the day comes when we legislators are shot at, we will vote strong laws in that will pluck every single gun out of the hands of the public.  Then, unless you can prove you want the gun for hunting game, it will be real tough to find a gun, let alone to buy one!

Senator, what about outlawing hate groups who advocate shooting or killing people based on their race or religion?  What can we do to try and stop these hate mongers who use our own constitution as protection while they attempt to undermine our society and overthrow our government?  Is it not true that the same freedoms we enjoy can and will be used to protect these criminals  and allow them to promote anarchy and injustice?  What do you say to us when they mockingly assert their rights to purvey hate and crime and injustice?   Don’t they use that maxim that a lie told over and over begins to be taken as truth?  Senator, one more question…  As an elected official we have sent to serve us, can you please tell us what you can do for us in providing leadership?  What are you doing to help us in our need to heal our sick and sore society today? 

Senator Barnscum:  Well, son, I take the money and run.  I am only one of the many millionaire senators who big business has bought.  Basically, I am here to collect my check and take the perks, serve the lobbies, and wield power.  I work to stay in office as long as I can, and maybe, just maybe, legislate something mediocre that will not arouse my sleeping electorate. 

Thank you, Senator Barnscum, you certainly have enlightened me.  I understand your motives now.  I hope everybody does.  The people can hear. 
Copyright 1999 by Harry Martin Polis 

 

CRUNCHING THE CRIME NUMBERS
by Harry Polis
 As a retired Philadelphia Police Officer, I remember how the crime statistics were under-reported or classified as  “non-crimes”.  After we answered calls, when we returned to the station house, the cases were classified.  They were called “unfounded” if the evidence wasn’t immediately obvious, and they were not investigated further.  Today, previously downgraded rape cases in the city are being examined for possible reclassification.  In the past, they were often downgraded to “Investigation of Persons” instead of statutory rape, rape, or sexual assaults.  The statistical trickery is not new, but goes back many, many years.  It was understood that the crime rate was a factor in elections.  If the crime rate were high, it was passed down as an unwritten law that the high-ranking police supervisors of old would ‘’crunch the numbers’’ of crimes when they could to cover for the politicians.   Then the inspectors and other high-ranking officials would be in a position to receive ‘’favors’ from the politicians in a ‘one hand washes the other’ scenario.  These police officials expected to be transferred to ‘the plum jobs’. 
In my old district, my lieutenant used to say, “All that glitters is not gold.  All that’s missing is not stole… and the last time something like this happened, three wise men appeared.”    He meant that it was a miracle if this particular case was going to be classified as stolen property.  It would be just missing property because we could not substantiate it being coded a crime.  Of course, we were not to investigate it further to accurately judge the merits of the complaint. 
Disregarding complaints that could not be easily solved was a way of life for the old police department.   We were overloaded with cases and there weren’t enough officers to adequately investigate the crimes, but of course, the public never knew this was a problem.  Often, there was little or no evidence to prove a crime. Today there seems to be a different story playing out. We have better-educated officials and a public demand for greater accountability.  Unlike in the past, it seems that our elected officials and those under them are trying harder to serve the public. It isn’t politics as usual.  We seem to be on the path toward justice as far as reported crimes being handled properly in the city today. Lets hope it continues.
Copyright 2000
by Harry Martin Polis