Tuesday, April 5, 2016

#A-TO-Z CHALLENGE – LETTER “C” - C.O.P.S. - THE MEN AND WOMEN IN BLUE OF DISTRICT 3 – V. M. YBOR



(Uuuh!)
Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?
Watcha donna do when they come for you?
Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?
Watcha donna do when they come for you?
Lyrics courtesy:Inner Circle                                         


Thus begins a very popular show and one that has featured our TPD's finest. Letter “C” is for Cops; specifically, our District 3 guys and gals in blue, who patrol Nebraska Ave. I can't speak for any other districts' practices, but these guys (and gals) know us, and we tend to meet up with them at shift change in various pre-arranged spots, a few times a month, either at their swing-shift change, around 3 p.m., or in the morning at 7 a.m., for the day-watch change (not me, I'm a night owl), and I know most of the grave-yard shift who float through here like ghosts, and where they tend to lurk in the shadows, the better to see the trouble spots.
courtesy:tbo.com
Police of District 3 during a shift-change.
When I lived at the homeless shelter across Nebraska Ave., I got to know them even better, as various pairs of officers would show up once or twice, or even twelve times a day to mediate various squabbles, fights, or differences among the residents of the two houses. The number of residents in both houses fluctuated wildly and some weeks would see as few as 25 people in residence, while others would see as many as 80 people packed in. The reason the owners could get away with housing so many people at one time, is they held a hotelier's license at the time, which didn't have a cap on the number of people they could cram into one of these houses. This has actually been changed and there is no longer the situation where some rooms accommodated nine people.
The higher the number of people, the higher the tensions and the more arguments that led to violence would occur. The fact that people had access to hard drugs and many drank almost constantly brought with it the inherent lack of judgment that chemical dependency always causes. If we, or the so-called “enforcers” who lived in the houses with us couldn't control a situation, the police would be called. Or if someone became so injured, medical attention was required, then again, the TPD would have to get involved. We used to laugh and say, “let's tear down the church next door and build the TPD/Fire-Rescue/Tampa General Hospital Annex and save time!” It seemed like someone was always bleeding.
Ya had to stay sober and on your toes to survive and be a hell of a lot smarter than everyone else, and I developed a real talent for that, in a hurry. I also learned to be agressive, but that's another story.
People also called the poor police for some of the dumbest shit imaginable. One of my roomies thought she was the queen bee of the whole shelter and she wanted to “run” the kitchen. She was this little troll of a woman, about 4' 8'' tall and had a mouth like a sailor. We always did our own dishes and/or put them in the dishwasher or wiped them and put them away, except for this one idiot, who was from Chad, and acted like he was some kinda Prince, or something.
courtesy:tbo.com
For some peculiar reason, District 3 has the honor of having an Arts and Events department, which none of the other Districts possess. Possibly because both the Downtown and Ybor Arts districts fall under District 3. Or, it may just be this is where all the original cats come to live and work.
He worked out and was about 6' 5'' of pure muscle and he never really talked to you; he just grunted at you. I'd say “Hi, Eli!” and he'd go, “Fnf!” and that was the extent of our conversation. Well, when Eli cooked, he NEVER did his dishes. He just left them in the sink for some lesser being to do them. My roomie used to yell and holler and cuss at him for not doing his dishes, and threaten to put his dirty dishes in his bed. Finally, she did just that and yelled “Eli, for the last time, do your “F*ing dishes!”
So, Eli called the cops. And here they came. Completely mystified. They'd already been out there. It was a rough Friday. There'd been a stabbing out in the back yard, and someone else got beaned with a brick and they both were hauled off to TGH, and now... this? I'm sure the TPD had had a belly full of the whole lot of us.
When they showed up, all of us'ns who'd been sitting on the front porch scattered and hid, but hung around close enough so we could hear what kind of dressing-down was going to come from on high. The cops stood there in disbelief. They looked at great big Eli and little, teeny troll woman and said, “Who called us?” Eli said “Fnf, I did. She said a swear at me,” while pointing his thumb at the troll. The troll puffed up and said, “Well, he won't do his f*in' dishes!” The police, a man and a woman just goggled at them, then looked at one another, then back at these two idiots. The lady cop pointed at Eli and said, “YOU! Do your dishes!” The gentleman cop pointed at the troll and said “And YOU! Stop swearing!”
They turned to leave and they could hear all of us rustling around in the curtains and they both said, “And you ALL need to BEHAVE yourselves, or we'll come back and burn this place down with you in it! Have a good night!” They waved at us cheerily and left.
Officer Fair and Officer Margaret are still around, along with Lt. Williams – my night owl buddy. Lt. Williams and I have teamed up on a couple of “capers”, the most recent one being, where I stand there in the road and watch his car, to make sure no one steals it, while he investigates the “gunshots fired call” that I called in ten minutes before. He runs back and forth to give me an update, and we're pretty sure it's just kids playing in some back yard. There have been no real gang wars, or shootings in a while.
courtesy:tbo.com
Police from all districts and one of the local radio stations film their version of "Harlem Shake". When I worked for the Gastonia, NC Police Department, I noticed a lot of "hams" working there. We had a town showcase that coincided with a NASCAR race in Charlotte and the cops were fighting over who got to ride in the NASCAR car and who got to be in the commercials. It was a lot of fun watching them sqabble over "kid" stuff and just have fun. The police here are terrific, just as the ones in Gastonia are and I salute them for a job well done!
Our previous caper involved getting two elderly “señors”, if not off a deserted house's porch, at least a couple of blankets, so they didn't freeze overnight. I got a lot of updates on that, too, as Lt. Williams would run to the house, talk to the them, run back to me and say, “I'm gonna go lecture them a little more about sleeping outside in cold weather...” Obviously, Lt. Williams cares about the people out here and is keen on keeping everyone informed. He's probably my favorite officer.
There is an older Sergeant who refuses to go to the "barn" or onto a desk and should have done so long ago. But, he is such a fine street cop, no one messes with him. He runs up and down Nebraska Ave. in his prowl car and is known as “The Batman” and everyone knows him. A sighting of him is cause to squeal, like we saw one of the "Beatles", or some shit and he can diffuse a bad situation in a heartbeat. He'll probably “retire” behind the wheel of that damned car.
Unlike other places and Ferguson comes to mind, Tampa is blessedly free of unjustified cop shootings and the police know the people on their beats. They make it a point to work alongside and with the people and develop their CIs or Confidential Informants, carefully and over time and with as much trust as they can. The FBI is also a large presence here, but at times they do more harm than good, and the TPD is very aware that they need to have information from the local populace, because the FBI will compromise a CI just to keep him going, and the CI is still out there committing crimes. It's frustrating for the TPD and they will only allow that for so long, before they'll step in for the good of the 'hood. It's just too dangerous.
One little socio-path had warrants and the FBI took them off the table. Then, he was caught on tape committing Grand Theft. Everyone knew he was going to blow it, so away he went. The Citizenry (i.e. me and several others) stepped in by starting a crowdfunding Campaign so that the victim could miss time from work and still get paid. The CI kept trying to delay and delay his trial, knowing he was caught dead to rights and in hopes the victim would not be able to afford time off work. We garnered enough money through our crowdfunding Campaign, so the victim could could say "sure, no problem, I can take that day off, too!" Group efforts always pay off like that. Our District 3 cops won, we won, and too bad the FBI lost their source, but they were probably being fed a pack of lies anyway.
These are also the District Cops who were doing a little dancing on the day of the messy accident in the intersection of MLK and Nebraska Ave. I couldn't swear to it, but there were four of them and there was at the VERY LEAST some synchronized hand and foot movements going on, as the four officers directed traffic. Why? 'Cause Nebraska Avenue!
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