Fair, or Unfair?

A story — or, really, the tagline on that story — by Mike Straw brought some bristling feedback. “Unfair!” But was it? Let’s start with the story, from the 18 November 2012 issue:

Missing Something

Deborah Fashakin, 33, told police she was pumping gas in Seat Pleasant, Md., when someone jumped into her car and drove away. The real problem: her three children aged 1, 4, and 5, were inside. Prince George’s County police issued an Amber Alert and called in every detective available, suspending what they call “proactive” activities, such as surveillance, to focus on the search. Police were able to locate the stolen car, but the children weren’t inside. Fashakin later allegedly confessed that she had made up the part about her children “because she wanted an enhanced police response to finding her stolen car,” police spokeswoman Julie Parker said. Fashakin was charged with making a false statement and held on $5,000 bond. “This response cost tens of thousands of dollars and pulled resources that otherwise could have been spent serving the citizens of Prince George’s County,” Parker said. “We took this seriously. We had to.” (MS/Washington Post) …Which is worse: the fact that this woman lied about her children, or the fact that that’s the only way it seems they would take an auto theft seriously?

Seat Pleasant, Md.
Seat Pleasant is a suburb of Washington, D.C.

The Comments Came Swiftly

Hi! Just had to comment that I think the tag line for this story is a bit unfair — just because she wanted an “enhanced police response” doesn’t mean the police wouldn’t have taken the theft seriously without thinking her children had been kidnapped. She may have assumed they wouldn’t help otherwise…but her judgment really isn’t looking too impressive! I understand the tag line is relating to Parker’s quote at the end, but there’s a big difference between taking a car theft seriously and taking a kidnapping seriously. —Angela, Ohio

I replied: “I’m not sure you’re reading the tag correctly.” Angela responded:

My point was that there’s nothing in the story to indicate that the police would NOT have taken the theft seriously without her lying about her children being in the car. So to say that her lying about it was the only way they would take it seriously seems unfair to the police department.

My guess: Angela has never had a car stolen. See next comment.

My van was stolen from my driveway. Thief left behind a metal baseball bat (I assume to be used on me if he were caught on my property?) Sheriff dept. (Sacramento Co., CA.) was not interested in checking it for prints. I found the van two miles away in a ditch. Muddy tracks from van led directly across road, through a locked gate and from muddy vineyard. CHP did not want to look for prints (only do that for ‘serious’ crimes), didn’t question property owner of locked gate, basically had no interest in investigating to catch criminal.

Son’s pickup broken into in Stockton (bankrupt) CA. Police wouldn’t come, only wanted it to be reported online.

And now probation and parole violators will no longer be returned to jail. —Frank, California

Frank is three times farther from Sacramento as Seat Pleasant is from Washington D.C.

While it may be true, I don’t see any evidence presented that the police would treat an auto theft less seriously than they should. Therefore, I have to question whether your comment is apt. From the quoted material, I think the police responded appropriately. —Jeremy, Virginia

Jeremy also lives in a small town.

My own experience wasn’t a stolen car, but a car burglary: my car was broken into in San Francisco and hundreds of dollars’ worth of stuff was stolen. Yeah, I was dumb for having it in there, but the cops absolutely wouldn’t come; I had to do a mail-in report — and this was 1978!

The bottom line is, police interest in crime is very different in big cities than in small towns!

So the question is, do you think Mike was unfair with his tag on the story? Why or why not?

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65 Comments on “Fair, or Unfair?

  1. That was in the middle of Hurricane Sandy hitting PG County. So yes, I’m okay with the fact that the police were too busy to take care of her car but not her children.

    Ooh! I had forgotten that detail, but you’re right: it was October 28th. -rc

  2. If the intent is that police should treat every crime the same, then I think it is unfair.
    Although it doesn’t feel very satisfactory when the police don’t pay enough attention to your problem, I do believe that some crimes deserve a different level of response. In this case, to achieve the response she wanted resources may have been taken away from other crime investigations that were more important than a car theft, and less important than a kidnapping.
    BTW I’ve been there too. Mine was a phone-in report for a $2500 theft of property — never did actually meet a police officer in person for it.

    Nice to know it’s not a U.S.-only problem (though I know it’s even worse in the UK). -rc

  3. Didn’t most of the governors in Sandy’s path declare states of emergency a couple of days before the storm hit? I’d be curious to know if the prosecutor can hit her with enhancements for pulling this stunt during a declared state of emergency.

  4. After being in law enforcement, I agree with the tagline, it’s fair. A lot of police agencies aren’t interested in many ‘small’ crimes. But people do think it’s like on TV where the police take all kinds of evidence to catch the culprit, but in reality they don’t. I’m not going to say that they should but they should show a little more interest than they do.

  5. If this is the first time people have had an issue with one of Mike’s taglines, then he has not been doing the job as well as Randy. Either way, I would like to congratulate him for getting a response like the ones above. That proves that Mike’s comment was good, it served the purpose of making us think.

    Definitely! -rc

  6. In this instance, I see nothing wrong with Mike’s tagline. But, there are instances where I do take issue with it, however. I usually don’t write Randy about it (and never in an angry tone, but just to let him know we didn’t see eye to eye this time), but I always keep this one thing in mind. This is Randy’s newsletter, everything that goes in it, he’s responsible for. He doesn’t have to agree with us if it’s “fair” or not, because it’s his newsletter, he thinks it’s fair, so it goes in.

    To be sure, the tags aren’t about being “fair”. They’re about being entertaining and thought-provoking. That said, I don’t want them to be unfair either. It’s a hard balance to maintain sometimes. -rc

  7. A car theft is infinitely less important than THREE kidnapped children. I would really prefer a police department that cares about children than one that cares about cars. Unfair: the police is kind of right prioritizing children.

  8. While it may be my bias showing (I’ve been some flavor of law enforcement since 1982, including a deputy sheriff since 1993), I did try to step back and look at the story, and the tagline, dispassionately.

    It does seem a bit harsh, even from that perspective.

    Law enforcement often bases their reaction to fit the reported crime. A murder is treated differently than a kidnapping, which is treated differently from an auto theft, which is treated differently from a retail theft. All of these various crimes are taken seriously.

    But that does not mean that a crime, which society has already determined to be relatively minor, based on the public perception of police pursuits involving stolen cars, as well as jury sentencing recommendations, warrants the same reaction as young children being kidnapped.

    The proper response to a stolen car complaint would be to broadcast to the surrounding officers a description of the vehicle, the suspect, and the last known direction of travel. Then collect whatever evidence might be on hand, such as video from nearby stores, in case the suspect made any purchases prior to stealing the car. While the officer does this, the victim completes their sworn statement. The vehicle is then entered into NCIC, as well as the state database. When the vehicle is located, it gets processed for fingerprints and returned to the owner.

    This takes only one officer. Two at the max.

    Closing down an entire agency to deal with an auto theft would be the height of poor management. There are many other citizens in any given jurisdiction who have a greater need for our services.

    Still, I thoroughly enjoy your unique outlook on the quirks which life tosses our way, and look forward to many more years of This is True.

    To clarify, Mike wasn’t suggesting that the entire department mobilize to look for a stolen car. Far from it. But his tag is an acknowledgement that the police often don’t do anything beyond accepting an online or “counter” report. Cars are important to people, just like horses were in a bygone era. And in that bygone era, they hanged horse thieves…! -rc

  9. I have to admit that I thought the tag was a little unfair. It didn’t bother me enough to initially comment about it because I understand that there are times when crimes are not treated as they deserve to be. Just in the past two months my house was robbed and my mother was amazed that the police officer took the time to dust for fingerprints because when our house was robbed when I was a child the officers really couldn’t be bothered. In the case in the story the police department obviously went to great lengths to find the missing children even though they weren’t actually missing and if I were a member of that force I think I would have been a little insulted at the implication that they wouldn’t have responded in an appropriate manner without the lie of the missing children, especially since there’s no indication here that’s the case. I’m SURE it was not the intention of the author of the tagline to imply that however.

  10. Since I wrote the tagline, I thought I’d give some opinion on it! 🙂

    I actually had debated sending that one in, and sent it with the thought, “this could be controversial.” But, it fit with the story, so I sent it on.

    The reason I went with this was the statement from the police spokeswoman: “We took this seriously. We had to.” The implication being that if the woman hadn’t done what she did, she wouldn’t have been taken seriously.

    Do I think the woman was right lying to police? Absolutely not. False reports are a huge drain on resources. I also didn’t notice the date, and it wasn’t mentioned in the story as conflicting with efforts regarding Sandy, but regardless, there was still no excuse. The part that led to the second half of the tagline, though, was the implication that car theft wasn’t something that had to be taken seriously. The fact that she felt compelled to tell that lie — and that her reasons were confirmed as accurate by the police — bothered me. An auto theft is traumatic, and the fact that something that serious may not be taken seriously is a testament to how stretched our police forces really can be.

    That’s what the tagline was for, IMHO, not to evoke a laugh (which most of mine ARE for) and not to give a solution, but to get us thinking about what went through my mind: is it worse that the woman lied, or that — at least in her mind — she was compelled to lie to get her car back?

  11. The criticism of the police is justified. Of course, the criticism of the woman is even more justified, but that doesn’t mean anything as far as the tagline goes. To most of us, having a vehicle stolen or vandalized is a serious crime. To the police, it is just an inconvenience. We pay police to protect our property. It is their responsibility to do so. When they (all too often) fail to take that responsibility seriously we have a right to criticize them for it.

  12. Personally, I’ve got no problem with the tag. Police generally do not seem to treat car theft as seriously as theft from a person, and it seems that extraordinary measures are the only things that would get police interested sometimes. However, as the true life examples on Snopes shows, this is not a wise strategy.

  13. It was fair. Sad but true that auto theft investigation is more about paperwork for insurance purposes than recovery of property, especially in cities. Glad the police take the life of my child more seriously than my missing car, especially since State Farm will help me replace the car. I would say I was thankful my kid wasn’t in the car, not try to claim she was.

  14. For a citizen to presume to set priorities for the police is beyond the pale. She should be prosecuted. The police cannot do an effective job if the playing field is not level.

  15. Looks like MY reaction to Mike’s tagline was just about what he expected. I didn’t translate it as the POLICE not taking a stolen vehicle seriously, but that it’s common enough for a CITIZEN to believe that the cops won’t take it seriously. And I’ve experienced it myself, when the police took a burglary report with the parting phrase, “Sorry about your loss; file a claim with your insurance company.” Except that in this case, it involved a stolen, loaded .380-caliber handgun. One might think that would warrant just a little investigation.

  16. My home was broken into and vandalized to the tune of over $50k about 10 years ago. The officers weren’t interested in going inside or dusting for prints until they learned that my firearms collection was missing. They were content to let my insurance handle everything. They’ve never found any of my guns, or any suspects since then. There is a priority to any crime and the police have to balance their limited budget against time spent. Making a false report can waste resources that might be needed for other people’s crimes. What if the police were searching for that car and one officer ignored a traffic stop that should have been done and a fatal accident happened because that driver wasn’t stopped?

  17. Fair. It is a problem that police cannot investigate “mere” auto theft. It is a problem that a woman feels free to lie in order to bypass police priorities, good or bad as they might be.

    In a perfect world police resources would allow every major crime to be investigated. But this is not a perfect world, and I think the woman was wrong. But this is very arguable, and I think the tag line totally justifiable.

  18. What I thought was unfair about the tagline is that it assumes that the woman’s judgement about police officers not responding to her stolen car was well informed. The assumption that the woman is an obliviot is much more likely to be true. We are talking about the Nation’s capital after all — there are plenty of obliviots here!

    In Alexandria, next door to Prince George’s County albeit in a different state, I have been very happy with the police response to minor crimes. Unfortunately the DC Metro area has a lot of crime, and this woman lying to police to get more attention is inexcusable — she should be prosecuted.

  19. Mike’s comment is fair — with some caveats.

    The problem here is perception. People see shows like CSI, and think that law enforcement is supposed to mean that good looking officers drop whatever it is they are doing to go running off to solve crimes with dramatic music playing.
    The reality of police work, as any current or former officer can relate, is far less glamorous and melodramatic as what non-officers see on TV or in the movies.

    What SEEMS like indifference to John Q Public in real life, might be the best officers can do, considering how much territory they have to cover VS. how many citizens and suspects are in said territory, the fact that a police officer, or even an entire department can’t be everywhere at once, and that budget cuts (in terms of personnel and euipment), coupled with priorities, limits what even the most dedicated and dilligent law enforcement officers can do at any one time.

    If someone is being threatened with bodily harm, would they be willing to “take a number and wait until the police can get to them” just because a petty shoplifter decided to steal a candy bar?

    Just because a police officer or department doesn’t immediately go into full TV or movie cop mode, doesn’t mean that the crime is not being taken seriously. While a car theft is a serious crime — classed as a felony, isn’t it? — it is not of a time sensitive nature, such as a kidnapping, assault or attempt at a murder.

    I think it IS fair of Mike to make such a comment — aside from his right to free speech here in the US, it is also good to question authority from time to time. Though it might seem to insult a current or former law enforcement officer, it is a fair question, and it would give law enforcement the opportunity to address the concerns of citizens as to their response to criminal activity.

  20. There just aren’t enough police officers available to give every single crime the kind of thorough investigation that people see on shows like CSI. Police departments don’t have the manpower or funding for that, and citizens won’t tolerate a level of taxation that would make that level of manpower and funding possible. If the woman’s insurance company is going to make the situation right for her, then this ISN’T a situation where the police should be expending every effort to find the thief; they should be focusing on other areas where people might get hurt.

    I think most people would agree that limited police resources should be used to prevent bodily harm instead of duplicating the effort to resolve a situation that’s being handled by another agency. I think the tag comes across as chastising the police for doing what they should be doing, and I think it’s unfair.

  21. I just wanted to comment on Denise’s “We pay police to protect our property. It is their responsibility to do so. When they (all too often) fail to take that responsibility seriously we have a right to criticize them for it.” Maybe we would have a right to criticize if we actually gave police departments enough people and resources to handle all that we ask them to do.

    Maybe. But do remember that court decision after court decision makes it clear we do not have the “right” to police protection of any kind. And those decisions were based on life and limb cases, not mere property crimes. -rc

  22. Angela’s thinking (and apparently a lot of other readers) calls into question an (assumed) unknown: Would the police have located the victim’s car as quickly (if at all) had the victim made an accurate initial report? We can probably speculate the answer to that question is no, for several reasons. Most notably as previously discussed: Prioritization. Just like a hospital emergency room, you take the most severe cases first and handle those until you get time/resources to handle the small things. However, I do take issue with this excuse. While there is SOME validity to this idea (especially during a hurricane AND of course kidnapping would be prioritized above theft), I cannot agree with those here who believe that handling small crimes is/would be impossible. Somehow hospitals manage to handle large caseloads with limited resources and personnel, but police departments just don’t.

    The lack of concern provided by police departments over minor crimes, frankly, has very little, if anything at all, to do with limited resources and/or personnel. If that were so, we would never see a police officer on the side of the road trying to catch a speeder. Speeding is a crime much more minor than theft of an auto, yet they seem to find a lot of time to set up speed traps –- in some places even employing the use of helicopters and planes. (Ever notice any large white “X” every mile in the shoulder of the highway? I wonder how much THOSE operations cost.) Instead of trying to catch someone committing a new less-offensive crime, the officers would be investigating/handling crimes that have already occurred.

    It could be argued that minor thefts are mostly a dead-end anyway and further investigation is a waste of 95% of that time/resource, but the truth is we just don’t know any more. It may have been that way before we had the technology available that we have today. The fact is that this practice of disregarding smaller crimes has just become the standard operating procedure of nearly all police departments. It is my personal belief that with proper procedures in place, many more crimes could be solved, and criminals prosecuted WITHOUT having to provide additional personnel.

    The message currently being sent to thieves is “Go ahead. Steal all you want. Most likely nobody will be looking for you anyway, and as long as you don’t pawn it or get caught in the act or on tape, you’re home free.” This is the wrong message to be sending out to criminals. There are many stories of how people lie to get police motivated into assisting. I do NOT condone this behavior but can understand to some degree how this behavior developed.

    What I find completely obliviodic in the story is that the victim of the theft took risks that increased the chance of loss. She most likely left her keys in the car/ignition and a 99% chance it was unlocked. If she was so freaking worried about this car that she took even greater risks (criminal charges) just to find it, then why was she so careless with it in the first place??

    If I was an officer (had there been no children in the car) I most likely would have been shaking my head a little with the lady’s careless handling of her prized possession. There are risks associated with ownership of a vehicle and one of those is damage to the auto (including by theft). One way to handle that risk is to transfer the risk to someone else (insurance), another way is to retain the risk yourself, and another way is try to control the risk (by locking the door, not leaving keys available, parking in a locked garage, etc.). My guess is also that this woman didn’t have insurance. I doubt she would have risked criminal charges over a $500 or $1,000 deductible, but she IS an obliviot after all, so who knows?

    Should she be prosecuted? Absolutely. Was Mike’s tagline “fair”? Absolutely. Theft is a growing problem we should be thinking about. Making a list of excuses as to why thefts aren’t treated with more seriousness will not solve the problem.

    I love your new word form: obliviodic. Sweet! -rc

  23. There is a clear difference between the manpower used for a car stolen than for a car stolen AND 3 kids kidnapped.

    In this case, the woman lied saying that her kids where in danger.

    I can afford to get a car stolen, anyone can! But a kid? Thus the extreme use of police force. The car became irrelevant, the kids life was the important thing and the police driven.

    It is worst the fact she lied. I know the frustration with the police, just look where I am from, but one should never lie about something that serious like someone’s life. No car is worth it.

  24. I had a vehicle stolen. I was with my 3 year old son and the $60,000 construction truck had my name on three windows with a phone number. The on duty officer was watching the parking lot of the church from which it was stolen…right by the busy road. When I approached him he started taking BOLO notes and then a couple cute females coming from the church service interrupted him and he gave them directions instead of completing my stolen vehicle report and BOLO. I had my 3 year old in tow and we walked, in Florida, to get something to eat. Police power is no different than any other power. It gets familiar and contemptible at times.

    A “BOLO” is a “Be On (the) Lookout” bulletin that’s sent to on-duty officers. -rc

  25. Nobody really knows what the police would have done if it was just car theft, though I lean on the side that at most an officer would have taken a statement and a BOLO would have been put out.

    The police spokesperson wisely stopped short of either denying or confirming if the department would have done anything if it had just been reported stolen.

    What *IS* ironic is that the same department that is so concerned about the cost in money (don’t ask me where they came up with that figure), time, and resources has gone ahead and charged her with a crime. Is the city willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars to make their point?

  26. The problem, as I see it, is the hubris to believe that MY problem isn’t being taken “seriously” unless it’s given priority over YOUR problem.

    Anybody who really believes that resources are unlimited and/or all problems can be simultaneously given top priority with all resources immediately dedicated to each problem as it occurs must live in Mayberry where only one problem occurs at a time.

  27. Not to be pedantic, but shouldn’t the word be “obliviotic” with a t?

    To answer Mike’s question, which no one else seems to have done, at least directly, both facts are bad but the woman lying to escalate the response to an unwarranted level is worse. A sad state of affairs all around that we even have to ask the question.

  28. My first comment is toward the beginning of this blog where I felt the thief could have been caught since muddy tracks from my vehicle were leading from beyond a locked gate. A cop friend of mine had a storage shed on his property broken into and his agency sent out fingerprint experts and investigated thoroughly. When his neighbor had a pool sweep stolen from his pool, and saw it advertised on Craig’s List, they set up a sting to recover it and arrest the thief. Then I see ‘Bait Car’ on TV and the extensive efforts they go through to capture idiots who commit a ‘crime of opportunity’ set up by the cops, and wonder why a little more effort couldn’t have been made in my case, checking the bat (weapon) and the van for prints, and questioning landowner about locked gate.

    Bait cars are lazy. They don’t want to investigate anything, they just want to grab someone who took the “opportunity” they provided. They have the evidence and the suspect all wrapped up in a nice present. That’s easy; finding who took an actual citizen’s car and not only getting it back, but capturing the criminal? That’s the hard part. -rc

  29. Frank’s story about the stolen van got me thinking. Assuming it’s true that some felonies can’t be investigated due to lack of personnel, can some of it be offloaded onto the victim or other citizen volunteers? I’m not advocating vigilante justice in the torches-and-pitchforks sense, but suppose Frank wanted to dust for prints himself — how much expertise does it take, and how much would the materials cost?

    I suppose in the ideal situation, he’d determine the owner of the locked gate, and he (or a private detective) could tail the suspect and obtain, say, a beer bottle. If the prints on the bottle match some found on the baseball bat and on the steering wheel, then would the police be interested in making an arrest?

    Nope. The materials are cheap. The expertise can be learned. But the “chain of custody” of the evidence has to be documented and, very likely, official. Having the victim hand over evidence that he collected himself? “Vigilantism!” the defense lawyer will cry, and the judge will pretty much have to agree, and declare the evidence inadmissible. But that’s just my opinion. 🙂 -rc

  30. I live in an apartment building, and in the basement we have storage rooms for the apartments (for storing a bike, etc). And one day about 15 of them got broken into. Stuff got stolen, and a lot of people felt unsafe, but the police wouldn’t come. Not criminal enough or something.

    The next day we found out about more sheds being broken into, only then 1 cop showed up. Only to see how bad it was. But he didn’t do anything either.

    About a week later, one of the people living here caught the thieves red handed, and he managed to corner and lock up one of the two. The police was called to take the thief away, and they nearly gave the person who caught the thief a citation, for robbing someone of their freedom, it was a good thing that the thief was carrying stolen goods on him.

    I think that oneliner was absolutely fair. The police aren’t interested in solving those types of crimes.

  31. “that’s the only way it seems they would take an auto theft seriously”

    We don’t know that, all we know is that she said she thought that was the case. Even if it were true, her actions show supreme selfishness — why is her car more important than anyone else’s?

    And as others have said, there’s a huge difference between taking a car theft seriously and dealing with a multiple child kidnap.

    The title is wrong because it misses the focus of the story — which is the woman’s behaviour. “Crying Wolf” might be better, as it reflects her mind set.

    So does the title Mike chose: there’s clearly “something missing” from the woman, such as a sense of responsibility, of her place in society (not way above others), morality, ethics — shall I go on? -rc

  32. Mike explained the reason for his tagline was based on the police spokeswoman’s comment, “We took this seriously. We had to.” For him, her statement meant, “The implication being that if the woman hadn’t done what she did, she wouldn’t have been taken seriously.” I think that assumes a contextual relationship with the remark that was not actually disclosed in the article, which is that she was referring to the investigative actions taken to rescue three kidnapped children.

    However, in the story, her comment immediately followed her reporting how the woman admitted lying to get “enhanced police response,” was subsequently arrested and held on $5,000 bond, and about the large amount of money and pulled resources her false statement cost the county. Due to the proximity of her various comments in the article, my take is that she could have really been referring to how the police dealt with the offending party, i.e., the lying woman. No one can really say exactly, since there is no link in the article that she was referring to the arrest, the car theft investigation, the hunt for three ‘missing’ children, or any combination thereof. So, yes, there is ‘something missing’ … context for the remark that instigated the tagline.

    Not only did the tagline reflect an assumption that the reporting officer was referring to police efforts to solve a kidnapping, but it took a further assumptive leap as “fact” that the woman’s lie was “the only way it seems they would take an auto theft seriously,” which the story (also) in no way suggests nor substantiates. Other things Mike considers “fact” were that “she felt compelled to tell that lie — and that her reasons were confirmed as accurate by the police.” Again, how can anyone claim either as fact? Who really knows why the woman lied? Maybe she lies a lot; maybe something similar worked before; maybe it just, you know, seemed like a good idea at the time? It doesn’t matter. It was wrong, she should have realized it, she got in trouble for it, and hopefully, she learned a good lesson from it. As for ‘her reasons’, (which, as I said, we cannot possibly know,) being “confirmed as accurate by the police,” this is again based on comments that may have been taken out of context, or, if not, is based on police actions we can never know might have been taken in this case, because a lie led them to act accordingly as if it was truth.

    I also think, Mike, you hedged your explanation a bit when you reiterated what went through your mind about the story. In your restatement of your tagline, you said, “is it worse that the woman lied, or that — at least in her mind — she was compelled to lie to get her car back?” Perhaps you should have included that caveat (“at least in her mind”) in the original tagline, even though you’ve already admitted it wasn’t what the lying woman was thinking, but what the police spokeswoman said that actually influenced the tagline as written.

    Lastly, as for the tagline question itself, “Which is worse… ?” Hmmm… Thoughtless, arrogant, selfish, deceitful actions wasting money, time and resources more than necessary, while serious needs of others may be delayed or neglected because of it? OR… that, apparently, some people feel it justifiable to resort to such methods to get preferential treatment, because ineffective behavior by law enforcement personnel is probably the norm, despite any evidence that would undoubtedly be the case?

    Well, there’s only one “fact” in the tagline options: The woman lied. The other is just an assumption without proof.

    Yep. Lock her up!

    Remember that it is impossible to include every detail in every story. Even if the reporter included it all in the source story (and they rarely do) and they got every detail correct (and they rarely do), that would mean we’d have room for approximately half a story per issue. We obviously must condense to the essence — the parts we believe are true and help explain the story and the principle motives behind the actions, add a comment, and move on. -rc

  33. I live in a small country that suffered civil war for 10 years and let me tell you, with almost non-existent economy, government out to get our money (for real, trust me) etc, we have infinitely less criminal issues than I see in USA.

    When I was offered a job in Miami, I seriously considered should I move my family there — my little city, with a quite high gun-per-capita, ratio still looks much safer than urban jungle as Miami.

    Drugs are a minor, almost non-existent problem in Bosnia (for once, poverty seems to be a good thing!).

    Burglaries happen but rarely (high gun count, remember?), bank robberies aren’t as popular as right after the war etc.

    All that being said, as a son of a police officer I can vouch for one thing: no matter how peaceful a city may seem, police if overworked and stressed out. There was time when I didn’t see my father for days and weeks at the time, and that was BEFORE the war, in most peaceful times.

    Bottom line, I’m not entirely sure I agree with that tagline, but I know one thing: police work hard and they’re just human, like everyone else. Cut them some slack.

    I have no idea as to the relative crime levels between the U.S. and Bosnia and Herzegovina, but remember we have about 100 times the population, and probably at least 100 times the news outlets looking for something to report on. We’ll seem to have more crime than you, even if the opposite is true, just like that in reality, London is the scene of far more violent crime than New York City. -rc

  34. Randy commented; “To be sure, the tags aren’t about being “fair”. They’re about being entertaining and thought-provoking. That said, I don’t want them to be unfair either. It’s a hard balance to maintain sometimes. -rc”

    Your right Randy…It was a thought provoking comment, why? Because as soon as I read it I thought it was a dumb comment, why? First, it wasn’t funny at all. Second, police interest wasn’t the story.

    I think your guest writers should take more “thought” in writing their tags…there by making them (the tags) at least somewhat entertaining and as such maybe more thought provoking. Just a thought. 🙂

    On balance, I’m quite happy with Mike’s tags: a great mix of funny and thought provocation. Not every one can be both. -rc

  35. “Fair?”

    Who cares? HEADLINES aren’t required to be ‘fair’ even in ‘news’ media. In ‘entertainment?’ Gotta be kidding.

    My only objection is that ‘Which is worse?’ implies that one is worse than the other.

    My experience has been that police stop caring much about stolen property as soon as you file a report, because insurance is supposed to cover your damages, and if you can’t afford insurance, you don’t matter.

    But so long as we have a government which continues to make millions of laws, many of which have no support from the citizens, and far too many for anyone to actually know them all, we continue to create people who consider laws increasingly ‘advisory’ since the vast majority cannot be enforced.

    Without the backing of a substantial majority (say, 70-80%) of the citizens, no law can be enforced very well.

    Triage has to happen in any emergency service, and yes, stolen children ARE arguably more important than a stolen car. She ought to be fined and billed for the additional resources used to locate her car just for jumping queue, which could easily have caused her missing car to be pursued rather than some actual kidnapping or battery.

  36. It seems to me that police departments that devote fewer resources to property crimes than to risks to human life are simply exercising the same practice as hospitals do. Allocating limited resources so as to maximize the saving of lives.

    It would be great to have enough resources in every police department to devote full attention to every crime, just as it would be great to have well enough staffed and equipped ERs that triage was never needed. However, we don’t.

  37. After WWII every returning AP & MP were hired by police stations across the land. They were not paid enough to generate a kink in the budget for all those officers. All patrol cars had two officers in them (and no direct link via telephone to anyone). Every crime was investigated with the full force of all those young men.

    But time marches on. I know of a Judge who saw his van robbed of his wife’s purse (football game) and got the tag number of the car and because of his position looked up the owner of the plate and turned it into the local police station. They thought it was funny (they did not know he was a Judge) and told him that since he did such a good job that he should just go ahead and arrest them. When he got a bit formal and asked them to repeat that into his tape recorder they started to back pedal. No oh no they were not recommending vigilante justice (and yet that IS what they were suggesting), and when his wife let the word Judge slip from her lips they suddenly got animated.

    The purse was gone by the time the criminal was apprehended but he was arrested for his numerous parole violations and bench warrants.

    And no they no longer go to Bucs games due to the lack of security in the parking lots and the insistence that all belongings be left in the parked vehicle. Yes, it is a criminal’s paradise as they know the cops won’t prosecute them or even look for them unless a Judge is involved.

  38. At one point PG was known for its high rate of car thefts, so residents were justified in believing that not much would be done if their car was stolen. That has improved recently.
    Still, there is no justification for pulling scarce resources from a strapped county to find property. Children, yes. A car? Give it more time and fewer resources.

  39. In response to the first commenter pointing out that Hurricane Sandy was attacking PG County when this happened, the hurricane didn’t actually hit “here” until the next day (I live about 20 minutes or so from Seat Pleasant) and I remembered the date because I had to fill out the insurance reports because of the tree that fell on our house!

    I understand, but everyone in the area knew it was coming, and there were already emergency declarations in place in at least some locations. -rc

  40. I wouldn’t say only small towns are willing and/or able to treat car thefts seriously. When I lived in a medium-crime neighborhood in a Denver suburb, I once called to report a vehicle on my property. Normally I wouldn’t have involved the police, but this car clearly had the ignition rewired from requiring a key to pushing a button, had locks tampered with, and also what looked like a small projectile-caused hole in the windshield. (It was too small to be a bullet hole, most likely, but it was definitely a circle punched through and not caused by a rock.) Oh, and it had no license plates. Within 15 minutes I had 3 officers out investigating. That said, we did live about 3 blocks from the police station, and the largest amount of crime in our immediate vicinity came from car thefts (that was not the first time we’d had to call them on the general subject).

    As to the tagline, my initial reaction was to roll my eyes a bit; I’m sure most officers would love to have more time to spend on thefts. That would mean that they’re having to spend less time on assaults, murders, kidnappings, hurricanes, etc. I think it’s sad that the woman was so self-centered that she knew her car was more important than anything else the police had to do. I just wish that the realization that the police wouldn’t agree would get her to rethink her level of urgency rather than lie and divert resources.

  41. While I have to agree that the lady was wrong to do what she did, you have to live here in Prince George’s County to understand why she did it. Our County Police have a reputation for either over or under reacting to any situation. A carjacking will be taken very seriously if there is a hostage situation possible; considerably less seriously if there was weapon displayed at the time of theft, and total apathy if the car was stolen and nobody was in danger. If her car had been stolen when she was away from it, she would have to file her report online to be investigated. However, if a homeless person is caught urinating in public, there is a good chance he will be beaten before being arrested (UNLESS somebody with a camera-phone is nearby). It is a sorry fact that PG County Police are not too different from many other departments in this country.

    I don’t know: I sure hope they’re at least somewhat different. -rc

  42. Three thoughts. First, well done on the thought provoking angle. It’s is first time I’ve felt compelled to write on a tag or story. And I’ve had to wrap my hands around it a bit. Second, I think it’s a real problem that people feel their only recourse to get an empathetic response from their public servants is to cause such an alarm.

    Third, as as a subscriber to the regional emergency alerts I actually remember seeing this when it came through the wire. I forwarded it to friends, looked out the window, and for days wondered if the kids had been recovered. As the father of two young children not far from the ages reported in the story, and living in a city known for carjacking, I’m appalled that this lady would cry wolf like that. If a real kidnapping like this happens in the future (and it has happened in this area before), will police have to waste valuable time confirming that the victim isn’t lying just to get an empty car recovered? This abuse pulls the fabric of our community trust further apart.

    All that said, I think the police chief needs to work on helping his/her officers learn better people skills (and apparently from the comments not just in Seat Pleasant). Even if it’s not a major crime, at least acknowledge someone’s loss. I’d have to say the SPPD is a victim of their own behavior here.

    One’s not worse than the other — they’re both bad!

  43. The woman was apparently gassing her car with the keys left in the ignition. She was inviting car theft. The police can not be expected to correct for stupidity.

  44. To me, it’s simple: breaking up a drug ring trumps a car theft; stopping a murder trumps a car theft; hunting down a murderer trumps a car theft; putting crooked bankers in jail trumps a car theft.

    Finding kidnapped/lost children trumps all of the above.

    So, yes: kidnapped/lost children is far far more important than the loss of a mere car. The car is replaceable; the children, not so.

    Besides, if she had decent insurance coverage, then her loss is covered and replaced. But dead children can never be recovered.

    Right. The only problem is, there were not any children actually involved. -rc

  45. Just as a mention, I know for certain that in the states of New York and Texas, it’s actually a misdemeanor criminal offense to leave your keys unattended in a vehicle. Other states may or may not also have such a law. I don’t know about Maryland. She could have been additionally charged with “criminal stupidity.” (Okay, that’s not the actual name of the offense, but you get the drift.)

    Of course, about half the people featured in TRUE are guilty of criminal stupidity, and they’re just lucky that’s not an actual crime. -rc

  46. Absolutely unfair. Every person and organization has to set priorities, and in some towns a car theft will get more attention from the police than in others. Here the victim was being selfish because it was HER car that was stolen and she wanted to move her case up the priority list by falsely escalating the nature of the crime. If the police are not doing their jobs then it’s fair to pursue that separately, but that isn’t what the victim was attempting to do.

    So you’re saying you agree with the story completely, but the tagline is still unfair? I don’t get it. -rc

  47. I’m comfortable with police having low priority for property crimes, particularly in light of the oncoming storm. I read “we had to” as annoyance that the victim had used inappropriate mechanisms to override their prioritization.

    I disagree with the assertion that this was simply property crime, or that she had left the vehicle unattended (assuming normal habits.) The story notes she was pumping gas. I think normally you keep attendance on the car — when I’m pumping gas, I’m either at the gas tank or the driver’s seat. So the thief ‘kissed the dog’ — would have faced the owner, with possible escalation of threat to violence. This makes the thief more of a risk to public safety than a simple car theft.

    Of course, false escalation by invoking kidnapping is just plain stupid.

  48. Here’s a true story you will find difficult to swallow — everything is true, and shows how little police regard car theft. I had my car car-jacked at a vendor’s facility. A van blocked me in, and the driver pointed a shotgun at my face. A ragged and nervous guy came running from the passenger side with a .38 snub nose in his shaking hand. I dropped my keys and stepped back. After my keys were taken at gunpoint, I watched my car drive away.

    I called 911 and the responder asked if the perps were still there. I said my car had left the premises, and the van that followed me was in the driveway, and the driver was looking right at me. The responder admonished me that it was NO LONGER AN EMERGENCY, and then she provided me with a 10 digit phone number for the local sheriff.

    Luckily for me, the van driver did not decide to turn around and shoot me, but drove off. I called the local sheriff and was told to wait for an hour for officers to take my statement. After two hours, they arrived, took my name and Driver’s License information, and handed me a report number for “my insurance records” then wanted to leave. I tried to ask questions, and they told me to call the station later. My insurance did great by me, they found my car was worth more than I paid, and gave me replacement costs — not my cost after a grace period of 30 days (to give the police a chance to recover the vehicle). When I went to register my replacement car (about 8 weeks after it was stolen), I found the old car had amassed a huge number of parking tickets (one every single day since it was stolen). I subpoenaed the tickets and discovered that they had written on EVERY one of them that it was a stolen car; then wrote the parking tickets anyway!

    It took me a week to clean up the tickets, and clear my record so I could register my new vehicle. I could have had my ORIGINAL vehicle, if just one of the 30 tickets it received during my insurance grace period was followed up on and the car returned. As it was it was finally recovered (Day 62) by the California Highway Patrol. Not because it was stolen, but because it was parked in an alley and blocked an ongoing police investigation.

    The ONLY thing in this that was positive, is I found the one good bureaucrat in all of the CA DMV. She was a supervisor who watched as I laid into most of the phone staff about the issue (they all told me to PAY the parking tickets so I could register my new car and then negotiate to have the tickets removed). Since I had proof the car was stolen I did not see this as an option or desireable. Finally she was the last person I was transferred to, and at 5:00 PM when her staff went home she stayed behind and erased all of the tickets from my record.

    An amazing story. -rc

  49. Give the cops a break.

    Years ago I owned a tree removal service and one of my employees stole every chain saw and much related equipment from me while I was away on vacation. The police were notified by relatives that checked the property daily. When I returned home nothing had been found and I don’t know even if the police were actively looking for the thief any longer.

    Well, it sure helps the police when you help yourself, legally that is. As soon as I returned I started calling around to dealers that sold chain saws. I found a dealer that had purchased a partial roll of saw chain (mine) from someone. I had a picture of the employee that I suspected because of this man’s description of the seller, and when he saw it he identified my employee. I knew that would not be enough to have him arrested, but I was on to him.

    Shortly after I contacted a store that had received an offer to purchase two used small saws. They didn’t buy them because the owner was away but told the seller to come back at a given date. That date was now two days off. We made plans. They called me as soon as he called them back to check on the owner. They delayed him long enough for me to arrive at the store. Shortly after that, while I was hidden in back, he came in with two of my saws. when I described the saws to the clerk sight unseen, he knew they were mine.

    I then called the police, they said they would be right there, and I went out front to confront the thief. He turned very pale when he saw me.

    There was a clerk standing at the locked front door and another one standing at the counter with a 12 gauge shotgun leaning against it within quick reach.

    The police took him in, found out where the rest of my equipment was sold, drove me two hours away to identify those saws. They thanked me for my efforts, I thanked them for theirs, the state prosecuted the thief, and returned the money gained from the theft to me, not the man who purchased obviously stolen property, and they returned all my equipment to me. Only took about a week after my return from vacation.

    Would the police ever have found the thief or my equipment? I think not. Should I have accused them of sitting around eating donuts while I suffered my loss? No, I don’t fault them in the least, they did have many higher priority cases to work than mine. They are spread thin and they don’t mind us helping them by giving them leads or, like in my case, solving the crime for them and letting them take the credit.

    Don’t berate the police, help them out and give them commendation for what they are able to do. And don’t mislead them to get your own way.

  50. As someone who lives, works and goes to school very close to there, I can assure you that the police do not respond in a timely manner to anything less than immediate danger to loss of life. I am a radio enthusiast and I sometimes monitor the radios of local police departments. If the public would hear some of the things that go on when there are reports of crimes in progress they would want the whole police force fired. There are just so many robberies, assaults, etc. that they can’t possibly respond to more. (We are lucky that UMD has its own police department.)

  51. @ Anthony – Nope ….”Obliviodic” is correct because it just doesn’t make sense. DUH.

    PS: You might find it comical to know I am from Sapulpa — we made national headlines with spelling in our schools this past October!

  52. The way I read it, the “this” in “We took this seriously” is the crime the car owner committed in making a false report. Every part of what the police spokesperson is quoted as saying seems to be about that issue, not about whether or not they take a kidnapping case more seriously than a car theft seriously.

    (Of course I can only go on the quotes that were included, since I don’t know what else the spokeperson may have said that didn’t fit into the original WP article or into the True summary.)

    Now obviously it’s not a good situation if citizens feel they have to lie to get an effective response from police, but for me that’s another issue….

  53. Someone implied that small town cops are more receptive the crimes against locals than big city cops might be for local citizens.

    Don’t believe it.

    My son’s car was parked right across from our front door, nasty snow storm so he didn’t go out to it until time to head for work. Passenger-side door (away from street so unseen from road and house) ajar, CD player and speaker system (they’d pull the back seat to access speakers in trunk) all yanked out. Loss was more than a little bit. Called local cops, many of who we know by first name; they showed, took a report. Had no interest in looking for fingerprints, not even any interest in following the footprints in the foot deep snow leading away from that open passenger door, headed toward a number of homes and an alley. “If you need a copy of the report for your insurance…,” yeah, right, 20s something kids don’t think to insure the stuff installed inside their cars.

    Smaller town … the deputies there didn’t want to hear that my mother’s body had apparently been moved from when it was first discovered until they were eventually called and showed up.

    So, if you see disinterest in your law enforcement agency, don’t blame the size of the town. Blame the hours, blame the rotten pay, blame the cut-backs and thin staffing and only two patrol officers for more than 400 sq miles of suburban-surrounding old town, and usually being barked at by people, when not being cussed at.

  54. Hi. Just sounding in with my own experiences. One from 25 years ago, one from quite a lot more recent times.

    Case one (Germany): I had left my car near the railroad station to commute by train. In the evening, the car was gone. I called the police, and was told I had to come to the station — a four mile walk through some rather …insecure… neighbourhoods — to report. I did so, but was left with an impression of ‘doesn’t help you, we won’t ffind it’.

    Three days later, the car was found, at the other end of town, in a no parking zone. I only learned this when I got a letter telling me it had been towed and put into storage. When I showed up there with my theft report, they still tried to make me pay the fine for the illegal parking.

    Two months later, I got another letter, this time from the theft dept. of the first station, telling me that the car could not be found despite all their efforts. Never mind that I had been driving it again for over a month, and parking it right under their noses. I could only wonder: what effort?

    Second case (Netherlands): My car was broken into overnight. A couple of things stolen, among others a rare book, in a plastic cover. Name and address in an ex libris in the book. I reported it, after walking (again) several miles, because the police couldn’t be bothered to come and see for themselves.

    Four days later, I got a phone call ‘We found some of your property lying around. come and pick it up.’ It was the book and some trinkets. At the (same) station I asked them whether they had tested the book for fingerprints. ‘Why? for a lost book?’ When I told them about the theft report, they had no idea I had filed one, and still refused to check for prints. ‘Doesn’t help anyways’, was the only comment.

    Was the woman wrong for mis-reporting? Sure. But was it understandable? Given the apathy I saw from the police in those two cases, in two more cases involving theft from my car, and in numerous cases involving theft from friends’ cars — in numerous towns and countries — I can only say, yes.

    The police often seem to be more intent on harassing the regular law-abiding citizens for infractions that are much smaller than car theft and property damage than to follow up on crime reports. They _do_ prioritize (and have to), but often they get the priorities simply wrong.

  55. So far to date I can think of only one of Mike’s taglines that I strongly disagreed with, but this particular tagline started out with an initial disagreement which changed to agreement after reading some of the reader comments, then back to disagreement, then finally settling on agreement. Now that’s “thought provoking” and, fair or not, that’s worth writing.

    That said, my final conclusion is fair… I had already flip flopped after considering the very points both Randy and Mike went on record to clarify, before I even read their clarifications. My final conclusion was independent of any of the other comments and based on the question and my own response to all the opposing arguments.

    The very fact that my initial reaction was unfair but then flipped to fair after considering certain arguments, then back to unfair again after considering others made this in the end a fair question. Any question that causes that much thought HAS to be fair.

    As to the question itself, “Which is worse?” I think the general consensus is that the woman was wrong to lie to the police but also that the police should definitely prioritize kidnapping over property theft. So, the only thing that seems arguable is whether the police would, in this case, have given any appropriate priority to this particular crime. The tagline seems to fit with at least half of the commentators’ and apparently the woman’s belief that the police would not have taken it seriously if it were just a property crime. Mike’s own humorous interpretation of the police spokeswoman’s comment was certainly taken out of context (thus the humor), though not necessarily a false representation of the police departments’ attitude towards property theft. Certainly the woman in the story and almost half the commentators believe that it is likely the police department would not have taken the theft as seriously as it should have… and that, while not as bad as the woman’s idea of a solution, is indeed a serious problem.

    I have my own anecdotes of how the police fail to instill confidence. The first, another car theft. This one from a movie theater parking lot that I found was losing 14 to 20 cars a week during the evening showings 6 cars the very night my friends car was stolen. How hard would it have been for the police to stake out such a small area with that level of regular auto theft? The police precinct was, after all, in the same parking lot! Not only that, the investigating officer even told my friend’s dad three drop locations that they might expect to find the car stripped at. My friend and his dad drove out to the locations and called it in when they spotted the car. Five hours from pickup to drop… six cars in one evening, the police know when and where they are picked up and where they are dropped and this went on for months, but the police can’t stop it? Inexcusable.

    Though it wasn’t my car or my loss, I was present when this went down and walked across the parking lot with my friend to the police precinct to report the theft. The officer manning the desk didn’t speak to us for a long moment while he looked back behind the counter (apparently hoping his replacement would step in fro the back as it was shift change time). We just stood there and looked at one another in uncomfortable silence while the officer leaned back and looked down the hall. We had to repeat that our car was stolen before he let out a heavy sigh and directed us towards a stack of forms on the counter… it was a stack of vehicle theft forms!

    On a personal note, I once had a man enter my roommate’s home and tell my roommate that if he ever caught up with me he would kill me. I was upstairs but clearly heard the threat and my roommate came with me to the magistrate’s office as a witness. I relayed the story accurately to the magistrate but when he heard that the man did not speak his threat directly to me he put away the report and told me that there was nothing the police could do. You better believe that I wished at that moment I had lied to escalate the police’s concern. I know it’s not the same thing as what the woman did in the story but it does make it difficult for me to decide which is worse, someone lying to cause a gross misappropriation of resources or the worsening conditions that cause people to feel that the police department will not take them seriously unless they do lie about their case.

    I don’t think anyone can argue that the woman was justified in her actions, but the very fact that there are so many people split on whether the police departments give appropriate priority to certain crimes makes the question a fair one.

  56. for Charlottesville Hank, who wrote, “For a citizen to presume to set priorities for the police is beyond the pale.”

    How about, “For an employer to presume to set priorities for the employees is beyond the pale”?

    I really, really dislike putting police on pedestals above citizens, especially since they are not required to take any more risks than the rest of us.

    Apart from that, I take note of Randy’s remark about horses, and how we used to shoot horse thieves. Curious that car theft is not taken as seriously. Before police (a 19th-century invention, at least in the UK and USA), people “raised the hue and cry” — to get the community involved. With police: if they won’t go after the thief, are we ordinary folk even allowed? If we believed we were, would we quit acting so dependent?

  57. “Posted by Omar, Mexico on November 23, 2012: I can afford to get a car stolen, anyone can! But a kid? Thus the extreme use of police force. The car became irrelevant, the kids life was the important thing and the police driven.”

    I strongly disagree with this comment. Sure, if I had to choose between having my car stolen or having my child (or any child) kidnapped, I would choose to lose the car. However, losing a car can be a heavy blow and not so easily replaceable. My car, for example, is older now and has a lot of miles on it (edging up on 200000). At the same time it is still in good condition and gets me everywhere I need to go. If I got paid out by my insurance company for my car, could I get a comparably reliable one for the money I would get from them? Considering that I know little about cars and am female so I am more likely to have someone trying to take advantage of me (I know this is a stereotype and I know it is NOT always true, but it is something I have to think about when looking to purchase a new car). It’s possible, but seems less likely. My budget is partially built around the fact that I have no monthly car payment. While I’m fortunate in having a decent enough income that it would be possible to squeeze and make it through, recent underemployment and continuing to try to stay back on my feet means that I would use my entire, at the moment meager, savings to pay for a car and possibly also have several lean months trying to recover. And I’m one of the lucky ones with decent income.

    What about someone who has much more limited income? Who is supporting family members — children, parents, etc — and doesn’t have the extra money to spare? How about someone on a fixed income such as Social Security, disability, retirement pensions, and so on, who perhaps purchased a car at a time when their income was more flexible? You may argue that a car will still need to be replaced anyway, and this is true, but it’s one thing to buy, for example, an older car that still has 5-6 good years of life to it and know that you have a few years of saving and otherwise trying to figure out details for down the road and another to have an unexpected theft.

    Furthermore, as Americans we have often set ourselves up to be car-dependent. In some places (mostly large cities) it is possible to get by without a vehicle, but in many areas things are too spread out for this to be feasible, and some cities are openly hostile to pedestrians in the way they are set up. Car theft is a serious crime, and while there is no way that I would suggest that it is anywhere close to the seriousness of kidnapping, it still should not be taken lightly.

    (I have also heard reports about people often escalating their crimes — most people don’t start off with the really big stuff right away — so taking some of the “small change” stuff more seriously might also help cut down on the bigger issues. But I don’t have good facts or stats on that, so I won’t jump into that argument.)

  58. In response to my previous statement, “For a citizen to presume to set priorities for the police is beyond the pale”, Lily of Germantown wrote: “I really, really dislike putting police on pedestals above citizens, especially since they are not required to take any more risks than the rest of us.”

    My statement had nothing to do with putting police on a pedestal. Far from it. My intent was to understand that the police are the trained professionals tasked with the difficult job of law enforcement. An average citizen is not a trained law enforcement professional. Would you also presume to tell your doctor how to operate on your brain? Of course not. We hire police to learn how to do their job and then to do it. Unless we are as well trained as they are, we should not be trying to tip the triage scale to suit our own selfish desires.

  59. The woman’s last name raised one of my eyebrows. Is she responding to the concepts of a different culture, or is she thoroughly assimilated into the culture of her community? As was pointed out by several others, big city responses can be different than those of small intimate communities. None are necessarily right nor wrong, just appropriate for the situation.

    Nevertheless, she made an assumption, lied to the police, and deserves to the prosecuted. Remember what happened to the little shepherd that cried, “Wolf?” She might just be getting off easy, by serving as an example to somebody else who might try the same stunt, and result in a bad situation becoming MUCH worse.

  60. @Hank – I most certainly would do my own research before allowing a doctor operate on my brain. I’d also get several opinions if I could. I had a cardiologist recommend ablation surgery and tell me I should be on beta blockers the rest of my life. I respectfully disagreed with him and to this day have little to no trouble with paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia and am under no treatment for any heart related condition. Just because someone is entrusted with a job or even properly trained for that job or willing to do a job doesn’t make them good at the job. There have been many times I’ve done or would have done a better job than those hired or entrusted with tasks.

  61. The saddest part is that he tag reflects the fact that our society gas devolved to the point that the police have to prioritize their response this way.

  62. If all car thefts were responded to in a similar manner, you would hardly ever have to deal with car thieves. They would all be in jail. While I don’t agree with her method, she certainly got the result that we should all expect from the police. If all “minor” crimes were treated this way, the criminals would never have a chance to perfect their art.

  63. Mike’s tagline appears to hinge on Parker’s word “this” as in “We took this seriously”. The tag line implies Parker meant the stolen auto report where it could be she was referring to the fake kidnapping report. I’d agree with Nathan — Parker was more probably referring to the kidnapping report. Thus I’d have to lean towards “unfair” as the line plays into a Police stereotype. And Randy is correct in that there are too many tidbits that can’t be put into the story to clarify it and discern exactly what “this” means. I certainly can agree tho that Mike’s tagline was a perfect fit for True.

    Regarding the Police response and result, people may not realize what child kidnapping/abduction reports trigger. An Amber Alert was issued, thus it was taken very seriously. The US DOJ publishes Amber Alert guidelines that “require a child be at risk for serious bodily harm or death” to issue an alert. So this is the mindset of all who assign resources, directly respond, and other behind-the-scenes support staff. It also includes community awareness and participation via roadway signs, cell phone TXTS (are YOU subscribed to get local alerts? see http://www.wirelessamberalerts.org — good Bonzer site candidate), TV screen tickers, etc. that get triggered. The NCMEC may also get involved.

    Quickly locating an abductee increases the odds of safely returning him/her home. So for the woman reporting the “abduction”/theft, the response is not just a couple more officers would be on the lookout for her stolen vehicle (a “thing”, however hard it might be for some to replace) — people were called in and focused on potentially saving those children’s lives. Think about what would go through your head if you were asked to go on a search like that.

    There’s always a risk for someone to get hurt responding to a situation where lives may depend on quick action. The woman should be relieved that no one was injured in the response she triggered and happy she’s only charged with making a false statement.

    Ms. Fashakin gets the Double Obliviot Award: 1) leaving keys in car unattended and 2) reporting a fake abducted child report. Mike gets a thumbs up for continued thought provoking lines regardless of whether I think it’s “fair” or not. Keep up the good work.

  64. The job of the Police is NOT “to Protect and Serve” as the LAPD’s famous motto says. According to the US Supreme Court, the job of the Police is LAW ENFORCEMENT! That means that they do not HAVE to get involved until AFTER a law is broken. This is also why so many police departments have been ‘militarized’ with ‘SWAT Team’ equipment and training, courtesy of the Federal Government.

    The days of Joe Friday on “Dragnet” always making sure the boys from the Crime Lab were called to the scene of the most petty crime or the crew from “Adam-12” patrolling their district and actually looking for cars on “The Hot Sheet” (stolen cars) and FINDING them — one episode from the first season (it was the Christmas episode) where this single mother had her car stolen and they found it 6 hours later and got it back to its owner in time for Christmas. Sorry but any more there is too much other crime that, as others have pointed out, the resources simply are not there.

    Was the tagline unfair to the police? Perhaps, though I agreed with it when I read it because I see the problem on both sides. The police no longer HAVE to work FOR the taxpayers any more so they focus their resources on the things that grab the headlines (and maybe some loot since most states now allow asset forfeiture in drug-related crimes and the department that makes the arrest gets the loot — whether it be money, cars, guns, whatever).

    However, it is a great way to get people to think and discuss the issues. Until we know what is wrong with society we cannot do anything to fix it. I don’t have all of the answers but more laws is NOT the answer — that is how we got to where we are today. We need to repeal about half the laws on the books now and enforce the other half — THAT would give the police a lot more time to focus on the things that matter to us citizens and taxpayers.

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