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A Visit From the Police This Morning

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

So here’s one to make you scratch your head. The wife and I are getting ready to leave the house for work this morning when the doorbell rings. Being about 9:30 am on a Thursday morning, it is kind of strange for anyone to come to the door. So I look to the door to see two HPD sergeants in uniform standing at the door and a marked patrol car parked on the street. Of course you can’t ignore the po-po, so I answer the door to see what they want.

They had received the angry letter I sent to the mayor’s office (with cc’s to the chief of police and my city councilman) to talk about the horrible service we received from Houston Police when our home was broken into last month, and stopped by to discuss with me and address concerns that we had. Not a whole lot useful came from the discussion of 45 minutes, but here were the key points:

  • A simple alarm call is not considered to be a priority and is regarded as a burglary that had already occurred. Either the alarm company did not indicate it was an active alarm with motion, or police dispatch failed to note that so the call was not given priority, although based on the circumstances it should have. When asked if we had called personally and told them it was an active alarm with motion would it have been given higher priority, they indicated it would have. They indicated the delay was due to dispatch and not the responding officer.
  • When asked why we pay an alarm permit fee if alarm calls are given low priority, they could not give a straight answer. They gave us a line about that just allows you to have an alarm legally, but could never articulate any benefit we actually receive for our money.
  • They could not speak to the officer’s conduct in taking a civilian into the home with him the first time through and answering “well, I hope you can scream loud” when questioned about the possibility of a perpetrator still being inside. They indicated because of the delay it would be highly unusual for someone to still be inside, but just said they would talk to the officer about the incident.
  • Supposedly there would be no benefit to contacting the pawn shop detail, as the officer stated their role is making sure the pawn shops are following the laws regulating that line of business, not finding reporting stolen property. The officer stated that this would be performed by the burglary and theft division, who should have contacted us to follow up on the case (which they never did).
  • The patrol officer would not do any real investigative work or evidence gathering. They would simply make a report and an assessment if fingerprint or other evidence could be gathered. The patrol officer also would not talk to neighbors or potential witnesses. It would be the responsibility of the detectives in burglary and theft to do investigative work, which of course is pretty difficult if they never follow up on the case.
  • They also cited a manpower shortage in hampering response times and patrol hours.

My wife made a really good point that they complain about manpower shortages, yet they send TWO sergeants out to our home to discuss a letter to the mayor. Yup, that’s an effective allocation of resources! Also kind of odd that they would show up around 9:30am, when most people would have already been gone for work. Oh well, I guess we should be thankful that someone actually read the letter instead of just throwing it in the trash.

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August 23, 2007 - Posted by | Crime

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