Sunday, June 11, 2006

Rock Island's finest?

Okay, so I'm no expert in law enforcement, but wait 'til you hear what I saw last night.

So last night I'm in the District at Gumbo Ya-Ya, right? More to the point, I'm getting off work from DJing at my weekend gig. At roughly 2:50 a.m., every club in the District shuts down and proceeds to herd the remaining crowds outside like cattle. At THAT point, it's up to the District's police presence to get everyone off of the downtown plaza within a reasonable time -- I think there's a law that calls it loitering if you're in the plaza after 3:15 a.m.

Well, in addition to the USUAL chaos, it's the District's first proper festival of the year, Gumbo Ya Ya. Despite the cold weather, there were quite a few people out and about, and afterwards, you've got scores of cleaning crews and sound guys out there tearing down all of the outdoor stages and trailers.

So in other words, it was EXTRA chaotic last night as the clubs were herding people outside. As a result, there were quite a few EXTRA police there last night. In addition to the usual Rock Island city cops, there were some of those brown-uniformed cops there, too (like I said, I'm no expert -- are those guys COUNTY cops? I think so.)

So we had just gotten everyone out of our club, and the police had ushered most of the people out of the plaza. Suddenly from outside, someone yells "FIGHT!" and our security guys all go bounding outside (as did I, because, hey, I'm nozy.)

Across the plaza from our club, I see some dude -- a BIG dude -- being restrained by several of his friends. (He didn't come out of OUR club.) What had occurred prior to this I was NOT privy to -- perhaps the guy had traded punches with ANOTHER guy, or maybe he was yelling at his girlfriend, I couldn't say for certain.

All I know is that, by the time I got outside, he was yelling at two of these brown-uniformed cops: "No one tells me what to do! I do what I want to!"

Class act, eh?

So one would think that would be enough for this idiot to spend the night in the ol' drunk tank, ya? Apparantly not, as the cops kept ushering the guy to the end of the plaza.

Now, at this point, the guy's girlfriend is tugging on his arm, in a last-ditch effort to get this dude to shut up and not go to jail. Out of NOWHERE, this guy BACKHANDS THE GIRL AND SENDS HER SPRAWLING TO THE CONCRETE.

"Finally," I think, "NOW this guy is going to jail."

I should have seen the two uniformed cops throw the guy to the ground, cuff him, and put him in the back of a squad car.

INSTEAD I SAW THE COPS COMPLETELY IGNORE THE GIRL ON THE GROUND AND INSTEAD CONTINUE TO PUSH THE GUY OFF OF THE PLAZA.

In other words, they essentially gave this drunk SOB a uniformed escort TO HIS CAR. Now, I have no idea whether or not this guy was driving. After seeing that, I almost hope he DID drive, wrap his car around a telephone pole, and then sue the city for allowing him to get behind the wheel in the first place.

So... what DOES it take to get arrested in the District? THE GUY BATTERED A WOMAN in full view of TWO COPS and about 30 bystanders... and DIDN'T GO TO JAIL.

It was the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen, and just made me lose an AWFUL lot of respect for my county police. While I'll clearly give the allowance that I WAS standing a half a block away and couldn't hear what was being said, I DID see the guy knock his girlfriend to the ground, and i DID see the police walk past the girl and eventually let the guy go.

I've seen people get arrested for a LOT less in Rock Island. Wait, let me rephrase, I've seen BLACK people get arrested for a lot less in Rock Island. I don't wanna be THAT guy who plays the race card -- and I can't say for certain whether or not the cops' actions were influenced by race, color, friends, the need to disassociate arrests with District festivals, or ANYTHING -- but it sure looked like some serious favoritism in the District last night.

If any Rock Island county officers read this and could explain to me what REALLY went on, I'll be glad to publically apologize in this blog. The last thing I wanna EVER do is tick off the cops. But when I see something as unjustified as it looked last night, I HAVE to comment on it.

2 comments:

Becky said...

Well, Shane, welcome to reality. Unfortunatley, it's not just Rock Island,and it's not just county. I feel qualified to comment on this for 2 reasons.

1)My brother is both a city and a county cop (not R.I)and hoo. The stories.

2)I grew up with a Dad who thought beating women was good fun on a Saturday night. I spent alot of time with cops, til I was about 12.

Most police will say that the battering partner has to "really, seriously injure" (read:"nearly kill") the battered partner in order for them to do anything.
If he "just" slapped her, that's probably why they didn't do anything. Also, bear in mind that unless she stood up and made it known that she wanted to press charges against him, she would have been ignored. (They may have given her a passing "are you ok?" and then went on about their business.)
However,I was an EMT for about four years, and I can also tell you, that one of the most dangerous things to get in the middle of is domestic stuff. A women who just got the tar beat out of her by her boyfiend, will often scratch the eyes right the hell out of you if you're the officer who is trying to take that same boyfriend to jail. I patched up as many cops at domestic scenes as I did "victims".Often, the police will avoid getting into the middle of that sort of thing until it's absolutely neccesary. And they will let a girl (or guy) take alot before they jump in.
What I *don't* get is them letting him drive. Surely they hauled him off to dry out first. God,I hope so.
I worry just a smidge about you coming out of there at 3am, ya know. And this is why. Yikes.

Anonymous said...

When things start looking dangerous, cops tend to focus on the immediate problem. It could be that with a crowd present, these officers were worried about adding ANY fuss that could have turned things ugly.

I join in wishing this perp would have been given some greybar time, but sometimes just making it through the night is enough for cops on the beat and girlfriends of violent drunks.