Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Public attention

There have been a couple stories I have wanted to share here, but haven't been able to because they have made it into the local news. And in the interest of protecting my family's privacy, I decided not to discuss them in the event some kook decided to go hunting and figure out who we are. It's not that we are completely anonymous. If you know us, and find this blog, chances are you can figure out pretty easily it's us. But I am always worried about the evil you don't know. And the internet facilitates that all too easily. I do know the articles are archived now.

But it was some really cool shit.

The first, and in my eyes bigger, story occurred last summer. Some of the details are a bit fuzzy but essentially a felon with six months left on probation escaped the halfway house he was at, broke into a home and tied up the occupants, stole a gun and their car (and asked them for DIRECTIONS), and left. An off-duty officer on her way home happened to see the vehicle, remembering the description from the end of her shift, followed him while calling it in. The deputies were able to catch up and a chase ensued. J used his stopsticks, successfully blowing out the tires, but the chase continued several more miles on the freeway. The traffic cameras on the interstate happened to catch one of the most exciting parts of the chase, and the operator must have known it was coming because the normally static camera follows as the chase passes the station. This part of the chase is very Hollywood style, as the guy is running into cars and causing multiple accidents.

Let me pause here and stop you if you're about to debate the pros and cons of a police chase. The suspect was recklessly driving before the deputies were on his tail. Had at least one weapon in the car. And I'm fairly certain that once stopsticks are used, they can't just let the person drive off. But I digress.

The suspect finally stops when the hood of the car flies up, blocking his view. Someone was looking down and stepped in, because he was exiting the freeway into a very busy area of town. Who knows how much worse it could have gotten then. The traffic camera also catches all the deputies go flying out of their cars, guns drawn, and the subsequent arrest. It was pretty cool to actually see J in action.

Turns out officers get a little uniform decoration when they use the stopsticks, too.

The second story is less severe in nature but equally dramatic and perhaps more debateable.

J is driving around on patrol one warm summer day, and is flagged down by a woman in a Lowe's parking lot. She tells him there are two children locked in this car, and she doesn't know how long they've been in there, at least a few minutes. No parent anywhere in sight. He looks in the windows to see two girls, 2 and 4 years old, unconscious in their seats. He immediately begins trying to unlock the car and wake the girls. The 4 year old finally wakes up, but can't get out of her seat or open the door. I perhaps should mention at this point it is a sports car, so not a large vehicle. Attempts to jimmy the lock are unsuccessful, and still no parent is around. If you are a reader of this blog you might recall our son was born last May, and so J is at this point a proud new father. And naturally even more worried about the safety of a child than he might have been before. He tells the little girl to cover her face, and breaks the window with his baton.

Naturally the father finally comes out of the store right about now, and begins his story about how he only ran in for a minute, they were fine, the car was cool, it was locked, they were asleep and he didn't want to wake them, etc. It wasn't the hottest day, probably about 75 or 80 degrees that afternoon, but any expert will tell you (and any person with half a brain will agree) that the inside of a car climbs in temperature rather rapidly in the sun on a summer afternoon, to easily 20 or 30 degrees warmer. And starts going on and on about how this is going to ruin his career. In the retelling I stopped J at this point to ask if he was even worried about his children. J says no, the guy is just worried about his career.

Ready for the kicker? He's a pediatric specialist.

So even if you buy that the car was cooled when he left, and that he really was only in there for a 'few minutes' (at least 5 had transpired after J got there), there's still a matter of leaving a two year old and a four year old unattended. Which is really the law he was breaking here. Technically there isn't a law about leaving your kids in a heated vehicle (although there ought to be, I know it's just Ohio but it gets hot and humid here too), I suppose if you were sitting *in* the car with your kids there wouldn't be much they could do. But it doesn't take a cop with a baton to break a window and take two kids out of a car. It's not unthinkable that one of them could pop the parking brake, put something in their mouth, hurt each other, etc. If you think it's improbable then you've clearly never been around a toddler. They do these sort of things in the blink of an eye when you're THERE.

I found some livid debate at the time about it, and really it should be a moot point. There should have been no question about an officer's actions in this situation. But there's always a question. Always. It still irritates me that John Q Public thinks they know how to do a cop's job better.

But it is what it is.


trcunning said...

You know what I like to do when I see kids alone like that, especially younger kids, is to call the store I'm in the parking lot of, tell them that I "bumped the fender of the ____, licence ____" & have them page the owner of the car.
You'd be amazed how quickly they come running.

Lugosi said...

If a car is parked in direct sunlight, the inside temperatures climb mush more quickly than most people realize. Even if it's low fifties on a spring day, the interior will easily go up into the eighties in a matter of minutes.

FroneAmy said...

trcunning - that would be rather amusing. I might try that the next time someone's left their dogs in the car on a hot day

Lugosi - Oh I know. But again, you are clearly a logical person who realizes this. The debate I found last year was pretty idiotic, half of them going on and on about how 'well built' the car was and how cool it would have stayed. Rrrright. Because they insulate cars like houses these days.