So there I was, on the Jalisco coast of Mexico, looking out at the azure ocean to my right, verdant jungle to my left, from the perch of our lovely guest house where we had just checked in, after having been handed a glass of white wine by our gracious hosts. Bliss. After a long drive down the coast, that had taken most of the day, I decided to check my email.
Picking up my iPhone, I read an email from my assistant. Something about my neighbor calling to get my cell phone number. Something about a canine unit and four (!) police vehicles outside my house. Then there was a voice mail from the burglar alarm company calling to report that an alarm had gone off. Things went downhill from there.
My phone wouldn’t work. Fortunately, I was able to use our hosts’ phone, and managed to find out that indeed our house had been broken into. And the burglars had ripped the control panel to the alarm right out of the wall. Under these circumstances, the City frequently has people come out and slap a bunch of plywood over the broken-into window, subjecting burglary victims to the additional insult of having to pay several hundred dollars for this “service.” Fortunately in this case, my neighbors were there to assist the police in securing the window. My neighbor gave us the number for the police department. Surprise, surprise, nobody would answer the phone. After several hours of stress and anxiety and expensive phone calls to the burglar alarm company and my wonderful neighbors, I was able to arrange for repair of the alarm.
But the damage was done. My TV was gone (hauled out the door at 10:00 a.m. by the thieves, with burglar alarm blaring), and God knows what else. The peace and tranquility of my vacation was ruined. I thought about coming home early, worried about the house not being secure, worried that I couldn’t enjoy the rest of the vacation anyway, fuming over the invasion of my privacy and security. But I stuck it out, made the best of it, and am now dealing with the aftermath.
I cannot express the frustration that I went through this morning trying to reach OPD. It was completely futile. The note left by the police in my mailbox indicated that the police didn’t know what had been taken, and I was to contact them to give them a list. But no phone number was provided. So I call the “burglary” section of investigations. No human being. Just menu-driven hell. No option to speak to an operator for assistance. So I call patrol. I reach a human being! But then he connects me to the “emergency number” for OPD. Well, that’s not right! I hang up, call again, and explain I don’t want dispatch. He says that’s who I need to talk to, and puts me through to the non-emergency number this time. I’m on hold for over six minutes listening to a bored voice repeat over and over that nobody is available right now, please hold. Then I get to listen to it in Spanish. Then I get to listen to a really obnoxious set of beeps and buzzes for deaf people. Over, and over, and over again. Finally, I get connected to a dispatcher. Of course, they can’t help me. They have no idea which investigator is assigned to the case. They can’t transfer me to somebody who knows anything about my case. They offer to send an officer out to take the additional information. What? How does that make any sense? I can provide that information over the phone! But no, this is all they can do. But I’m at work! How does that help me? Sorry, they tell me, that’s all they can do. Can they come by after work, I ask. No, I’m told, they don’t make appointments. I try several other numbers, to no avail. Nobody picks up the frickin phone.
This, gentle readers, is the level of service we get in Oakland. No police protection. No follow-up investigation. No phone number to call. No contact person. Nobody to even answer the phone. I was in tears. And you know what? My troubles are trivial compared to people who have been subjected to armed robberies, beatings, rapes, family members murdered etc. I can’t even begin to imagine what they’re going through. This is what we get when our police department is not properly funded. And it’s only going to get worse.
The City, meanwhile, continues to claim it has no money. And yet, it came up with $750,000 to fund an EIR for a baseball stadium that the A’s have repeatedly said they have no interest in! Quan recently estimated the chance of the investment paying off as “50-50.” Does that sound like a good gamble to you? And frankly, I don’t know where she’s getting those odds from. The City continues to whine about how, like all cities, it is suffering from the global recession. Well, in yesterday’s USA today, there was an article about how violent crime has dropped dramatically in major cities all over the U.S. - 68% in Los Angeles, by the way. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-12-29-1Ahomicide29_CV_N.htm And LAPD credits, in part, a larger police department. Somehow, they managed to add nearly 700 officers in the last four years. You heard right, that’s how much they ADDED. That’s more than we have altogether!
Anyway, enough of the good cheer. Happy new year.