As this blogger was covering the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night, my cell phone rang at approximately 11:24 PM. Yes, just as President Bill Clinton had completed his epic, stemwinder of a speech.
Just as a Time Warner Center audience of Democrats, including this blogger, were basking in the psychological glow of the energizing moment that someone sums up for millions what we’ve all wanted to say for some time. But for me, all that burst, like a balloon being popped.
I thought Mom was calling me about President Clinton’s speech. But it took me just five second to figure out something was wrong. We talk all the time, so I know. If you’re in tune with your parents, you know.
“Zennie, someone robbed us at gun point,” she slowly said. “We’re fine. Don’t you worry. We’re not hurt. They took my purse,” Mom said.
What happened was that, as Mom and her husband have told me, is that as they were getting out of their car at about 10 PM, a man of slight build, African American, and wearing a white mask with cut-outs for the eyes (which is how she could tell he was black), approached them as they walked up the stairs to the porch.
Cornered, the Masked Man pointed his silver gun at her husband and asked him to give him his wallet. “I can’t find it,” he told the Masked Man. So, noticing that my Mom had her purse, the Masked Man turned to my mother and said “Give me your purse.” She did, and he quickly ran into a kind of car that I’ve been able to determine as looking like a 2000 Toyota 4Runner, and drove off.
(They’re still at large as of this writing.)
That wrecked my evening. I felt so guilty about being at the DNC instead of in Chicago. Forget that such a feeling was irrational: I wasn’t supposed to be there at all. But it’s the feeling that if I were there, that person – well, those people, would not have done that. And if they did, I’d have hurt them. Of that, I’m sure.
But the reality was this: I wasn’t there. And while I was lucky to have them both – my Mom had re-married and to a long-time friend who lost his wife the same month she lost her husband in 2005 – I had to fly in and see her. That’s what I did today. And in the process of helping my Mom not just get through the horror of what happened, I learned this: the Chicago Police just don’t care if someone robbed you at gun-point. As long as you’re not hurt, they just plain drag their feet. I wonder if Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is aware of this issue?
The center of the problem is the staff at Chicago Police Department District 4 on the South Side of Chicago – well, some of them. I’m going to leave the names of the officers out of this (except Berscott Ruiz because he’s the District Commander according to the CPD-D4 website) but here’s the problem: the person who took my Mom’s incident wrote up the event incorrectly. The police report reads that she was the person who had the gun pointed at her, not her husband. It also doesn’t mention the car or any car, or a second person.
And for some weird reason, the police report was written up as rejected. Why, I do not know. My Mom says she’s visited Chicago Police Department District 4 three times and each time an officer or sergeant tells her something different to so. One said he would correct the report, and the she was to call him tonight – Friday. So Mom calls, and he’s not there – he’s working the Chicago White Sox game (some hard work).
When I called on her behalf and because she’s upset, what I got was a person who seemed more concerned that I was in some way accusing him of poor performance, when I never said anything to even “go there” and just asked questions. After calmning his nerves, he said that there was an officer I will call “O’Reilly” (not his name) who would sign off on the correct police report.
Thing is, I don’t know if the police report was done. I’ve watched my Mom get the run around in the brief time I’ve seen the interaction this evening. One officer hung up on her.
I’m not kidding.
The Masked Man Is At Large
Meanwhile this Masked Man and his accomplis is still at large in the area around Chicago Police Department District 4, South Side. When I told the officer I talked to that this man was out there, yet there was no online report, he said “Well, yeah, I don’t know what to say about that.”
Well I do: the Chicago Police Department doesn’t care if you’re robbed at all. In fact, one CPD officer who was in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention, and who on Thursday morning was good enough to listen to my almost crying about what happened, said this:
“I hate to be blunt, and you may not like it, but if she was robbed and nothing happened to her, it’s just going to go to the bottom of the pile. Now if she were injured in some way, it goes up the pile and gets investigated. Sorry to say, but we’re, you know, trying to do more with less money and people. It’s a hard place to be in.”
I thanked him for being honest, but from my vantage point as having worked for two Mayors of Oakland, is that more often than not people in government don’t care to make something happen. It’s the rare breed of person that goes the extra mile. Does the Chicago Police Department District 4 have that person? And if so, can they please help my Mother?
Also CPD Has A Tech Problem
There’s another problem with how the Chicago Police Department does its work: a lack of knoweldge of tech. The website for Chicago Police Department District Four should have a link to a Yahoo Group and a Facebook Page and a Twitter hashtag for tweeets of local crimes in the area, and for the neighborhood so residents can tell each other about crimes happened and what they see. That’s easy to do.
In fact, there’s no excuse for not doing it. Just get the web admin person to first make the pages, then go into the front page of the website and install the links. All of that takes about 17 minutes to do, tops.
But do the Chicago Police care to do this? That question is as uncertain as when that Masked Man and his accomplis will strike next.
Stay tuned. And if anyone at the Chicago Police Department or with The Office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel sees this, send an email to me at [email protected]