Last night, I got to watch police work up close and personal. That’s right; someone was actually handcuffed right in front of my house! Three patrol cars! Five police officers! Imagine my excitement! And the miscreant who was being handcuffed? His crime?
Not having a headlight on his bike.
Perhaps I should start over.
Late last night (starting around midnight and ending around 12:30 a.m.), police from the Bradley University Police Department detained a man in front of our house. I’m using “detained”, because he was obviously not free to leave. The police officers around him made that quite clear, especially since they had handcuffed him. So, “detained” seems like a fair word to use. I personally witnessed from the point where one of the officers put the man in cuffs, forcing him onto the trunk of the patrol car and then laying him in the road. Based on what the man was yelling, this wasn’t particularly gentle treatment, which scratched his face on the road surface. Orange Street was tarred-and-chipped back in the summer, so it’s a rough surface with plenty of loose gravel lying around.
We were able to hear most of the conversation between the various officers and the man in cuffs. As a result, we heard most of the story, which didn’t seem to disputed. The man was riding on his bike when the officers came along and told him to “slow up”. So, the man pulled to the side of the road and slowed down his speed. The officers were unhappy because the man didn’t stop. So, eventually, he did stop, and the officers told him that he was being ticketed for not having a headlight on his bike. He was then told to produce identification. He said that he didn’t have identification on him, so he couldn’t produce any. This apparently wasn’t satisfactory to the officers who claimed they needed some sort of identification in order to write the ticket. I’m not sure how this ended up with the man being handcuffed. I’m going to guess that he was arguing with the officers, but I didn’t actually witness that. I did hear the man yelling and saw the officer cuffing him.
After the man was cuffed, several other officers arrived on the scene. The man was questioned by one of the new arrivals. Why didn’t he stop when told to stop? Why hadn’t he produced identification when asked? The man reiterated that he had been trying to be cooperative but that he had misunderstood the original instruction and that he had no identification to produce. He was just on his way to his girlfriend’s house. At this point, one of the original officers started yelling at him, accusing him of lying about how he had spoken to them. “You didn’t say ‘sir’!” was the quote, as I recall.
While this was going on, another officer searched the bag the man was carrying. No drugs or alcohol were found.
Several of the officers consulted together and apparently figured out that they could write the ticket without identification. All they needed was a telephone number where he could be reached. No, his cell phone wasn’t good enough. So, the officers demanded that the man give them his number and his girlfriend’s name, number, and address. He refused to identify his girlfriend or give her contact information. Eventually, they came to some compromise and required that the man sign the ticket. He agreed, so they uncuffed him so he could sign the ticket. He signed it and took his copy. He kissed the ticket to prove that he was being cooperative, took his bag, walked over to where his bike had been left in the middle of the street, picked up his hat from off the street, and walked off, pushing the bike.
The police talked a little and then dispersed.
So, here are my questions, in no particular order:
1) Orange Street isn’t on Bradley University’s campus, nor is there off-campus housing located on Orange Street (that I know of). How does the Bradley University Police Department have jurisdiction in front of my house?
2) Was this situation really resolved in a professional way by the Bradley University Police Department? Couldn’t they have prevented this from escalating? Better yet, was this really the best problem to focus on at this time?
3) Am I really required by law to carry identification on me at all times? Do I need a license to ride a bike?
So, after last night’s display, I just want to say that I feel much safer in my home than before. It’s good to know that the police are out there, protecting me from dangerous black men riding around on improperly illuminated bikes. Hopefully, as a follow-up, they’ll start fining people for having lawns that are too long. It’s not like there are more important things to be doing.
Note: we shot video. It’s fairly unclear, but you can get some decent audio. When it’s available, I’ll link to it here.
UPDATE: A clarification: as I talked to Crystal about this, she mentioned that two of the cops who showed up later on the scene were Peoria police officers. Upon reflection this makes sense, as they generally seemed more professional than the Bradley officers.
Last summer, we bought a used refrigerator from Appliance Recycler at 4024 SW Adams St. They were willing to haggle, eventually throwing in a small dorm-sized refrigerator as well.
The refrigerator wouldn’t work. It was under warranty with Appliance Recycler, so they sent people out to try to repair it. They were friendly and knowledgeable…but they were unable to fix the fridge. So, we went back to the store, and they let us pick out a replacement refrigerator for free. The replacement ended up being about $100 more than we had originally paid, but they gave it to us to honor their warranty. It was a positive experience, and I’d gladly do business with them again.
Why am I bringing this up?
Last week, Appliance Recycler was robbed. According to the news reports, someone pried open their back door and stole about $20,000 in merchandise. That’s a sizeable hit for a small business to take.
So, if you’re in the market for a used appliance, consider checking out Appliance Recycler. I’m sure they could use the business.
I had a couple more thoughts to append to my post on privilege and responsibility.
1) When I say that the rich have certain responsibilities, I mean that they have certain ethical responsibilities. This is different than saying that they have certain legal responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the government to protect people from each other by (say) enforcing contracts and the like. It is not the responsibility of the government to require that the rich be charitable. Confiscatory taxation to fund social programs is totally contrary to what I’m talking about.
2) When I say that the rich have certain responsibilities, I’m generally talking about anyone who can read this blog. Is this a generalization? You betcha. However, I’ve noticed that people have a tendency to avoid calling themselves rich.
Here’s an example. For the last couple of years, my GenCon demo for Dirty Secrets has featured various members of the independent roleplaying community, who have graciously agreed to appear in my demo. As a result, I’ve asked several people to “stat” themselves out in Dirty Secrets terms. This means writing down your age, sex, race, social class, and legal status, each chosen from a specific list. The options for “social class” are simply rich, middle class, and poor. Most people were very uncomfortable identifying their social class, even though they generally settled on “middle class”. And, to be fair, it’s an awkward question. How do you go about answering that one? I mean, what social class are you?
But when these discussions come up, it’s often human nature to push ourselves toward the median. I mean, I’m not living in a house with a dirt floor, but I’m not in a mansion, you know? So I must not be poor or rich, right?
Of course, these categories aren’t tight; rather, they form a spectrum that shifts from “dirt poor” to “poor” to “working class” to “middle class” to “upper middle class” to “rich” to “filthy rich” to “Vanderbilt”. And that’s not really a fair spectrum either.
So, when considering these issues, don’t think about the “poor”. Think about “those who are poorer than me”. Specifically, think about “my neighbors who are poorer than me”. Because, as G.K. Chesterton pointed out, Jesus didn’t say, “Love humanity”. He said, “Love your neighbor.”
Sigh. I feel like I’m in the middle of a series of blog posts dedicated to removing whatever conservative credentials I might have left. Hmm. Never mind. That’s not really a bad thing. Because I’m not really a liberal, either. Be that as it may, I’m about to do something dangerous.
I’m going to talk about privilege.
Wikipedia files this concept under “dominant privilege” and offers this definition:
“Dominant privilege is a sociological concept describing the unearned advantages enjoyed by members of the dominant culture.”
There’s also a link to a syllabus about privilege (PDF).
Now, I’ll wave the tattered remnants of my conservatism and say that I generally get irritated by discussions of privilege. I’ve seen my share of privilege discussions, and they often go like this:
Non-white non-male: Waah! My life is so hard because The Man keeps me down.
White male: Are you sure The Man is keeping you down?
Non-white non-male: Shut up! You have privilege and therefore are incapable of understanding me or having any wisdom at all!
Or like this:
White male: I have privilege, and now I have guilt! I am a terrible person and refuse to be consoled, because I am white and male. I abase myself for my genetics.
Yeah, these sorts of conversations irritate me. A lot. So much that I’d be tempted to pitch the whole concept.
Except that it’s kinda true.
I tend to focus on socio-economic privilege, so let’s talk about the rich and the poor.
I love the wisdom literature of the Bible. Proverbs and Ecclesiastes just lay it out there without apology, explaining life the way it is. And, not surprisingly, both books say a lot about the rich and poor. For example, Proverbs 10:15 says:
A rich man’s wealth is his strong city;
the poverty of the poor is their ruin.
In a related passage, Ecclesiastes 7:12 says:
For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money,
and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.
These passages lay out a simple fact: having money protects you. The rich have protection from the world, but the poor are exposed to additional suffering. Or, as my mother put it, having money makes life easier.
(Yes, I’m aware that the Bible is full of warnings about the deceitfulness of wealth. However, this is because wealth actually does bestow power, though not as much as the rich think.)
The conservative response to this fact tends to be something like this: “Sure, having money makes life easier. But, this is America. We all have an equal chance to get money. Those with money just did the work, while the poor just refused to work hard.” Really? Proverbs 22:7 says:
The rich rules over the poor,
and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
For all that we want to deny it, the poor are at the mercy of the rich. This is a fact of life. We are not all equal. Some are stronger than others, and that will not go away.
In other words, we will not be able to rid ourselves of privilege. This is simply true, and we need to stop lying to each other and ourselves about this.
So, what then?
If the rich are stronger than the poor, then the rich have a greater responsibility than the poor. The Biblical principle is that the strong care for the weak. As an example of this, Romans 15:1 says:
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Think about it like this. I’m a pretty big guy. It’s a rare occasion to meet someone who is taller than me. Over time, I’ve realized that this means that I need to be very careful when I move around people, especially children. If I’m not careful, I will knock someone over or step on someone. Because I’m bigger and stronger, I have a greater responsibility to consider the impact of my actions.
Privilege is often used to attempt silence the strong. That’s wrong, because it’s simply an attempt to attack the strong. Instead, the powerful should be reminded of their privilege in order to remind them of their responsibilities to those who are not privileged.
Of course, this goes side-by-side with the need to remind those who are not privileged that they should not envy those who are privileged. Rather, the strong should help the weak because it is their responsibility, and the weak should humble themselves to accept help from the strong.
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will repay him for his deed. (Proverbs 19:17)
In light of all this, next time I’ll talk about an issue that’s been on my mind recently: gentrification.
See you then.
So, I blogged about Peoria CrimeView last month. Well, it’s become even cooler.
Now, in addition to seeing an incident map, you can get both summary and detail reports on the incidents within the search that you ran. These reports can be viewed online or exported in a number of formats, including Excel, PDF, Crystal Reports, and XML.
Also, through the CyberWatch feature, you can set up subscriptions to receive reports of incidents within a radius of a specified location. Want to keep an eye on crime in your area? You can get a regular email, customized to your requirements. How cool is that?
If you’re at all interested in tracking police reports for the Peoria area, then I highly recommend checking out this tool. Kudos to the development team for their work and to the Peoria Police Department and Peoria County Sheriff’s Office for making this information available.
…but it’s a great tool! Check out Peoria CrimeView. I was pretty happy to see this, but I was blown away when I discovered that you can run searches based on neighborhood association borders. That’s tremendous!
Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be a way to export to Google Earth files, but that’s probably a fairly specialized need. Still, it would be nifty if that were to become a possibility.
About those crime maps….
Yes, I’m still doing them. I’m actually updating them right now. However, I have discovered the joy of working in Google Earth instead of Google Maps. So those maps won’t necessarily be available online.
That being said, if you want a copy of what I’ve got, let me know and I’ll email you the Google Earth files.
For those of you who haven’t heard:
We are facing what I have known as a crisis for quite some time. Although the murder rate was down 2008 the incidence of illegal gun usage was up and there were people and cars shot at on a routine basis. (Gangs) with (their)/ it’s loose network of community terrorist associates, have taken it upon themselves to terrorize our communities and inner city. We must act and must act as a cohesive group to defeat the enemy that is fueling these (various factions). However we will not fight with the weapons known and respected in the streets:
2 Cor. 10:3-4~ “3-For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4-(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)”
It is my prayer that you will join me at a community pastoral meeting to address this urgent situation at which I will unveil information that is essential in assisting with our understanding of this enemy that we face. I also plan to unveil a community strategy that will involve you and your church in a proactive method of attack against this terrorist group. I am convinced that our inaction is fuel to the flames of the community terrorists who have staked claim to our schools and our streets. It must end and that end must begin with us and our churches. I do not believe that we can expect a government bailout to assist us with this one.
Please join me at 6:30 PM Thursday evening at Higher Dimensions Worship Ctr. at 2610 W. Nebraska Peoria, IL. (Pastor Bob Randle)
Please pass this urgent request on to associates and other pastors who may also be interested in taking strong action against this (these) community terrorist group(s). Thank you and God bless you greatly.
I’m planning on attending this meeting, and I wanted to pass the word to others.
I recently finished reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I had read it back when I was in high school, but it’s been so long that I consider this to be the first time that I read it. (Kinda like being a first time home buyer on my house.)
While I was reading it, I bought Homicide by David Simon. I’ve also read this book before, and I have more recollection of what I previously read. However, since my last reading of this book, I’ve read Simon’s other book, The Corner, and watched The Wire, the TV series that he created. Last time, I read Homicide because I had watched the TV show based on it. This time, I was reading it to gather further insight into police, crime, and police work. Or something like that. Dunno. It’s a different thing this time around.
So, I found myself reading both books at the same time. I’d read the one for a bit, then I’d pick up the other one. Back and forth for a while. And, honestly, there were times when I’d choose to read the one because the other was too depressing. Indeed, it languished for several weeks, because I found it too depressing to persevere through the story.
Yeah, it’s a weird moment when the gritty details of murder police is a welcome escape from 19th-century society.
Not what you were expecting? Then consider this.
David Simon does a fine job of speaking honestly about the homicide detectives that he shadowed. And, really, they are out there on the streets, dealing with death and depravity on a daily basis. But, really, that’s not a world that touches close to mine emotionally. I don’t know anyone who was murdered. (Crystal does, but that’s a different story.) So, while murder is a terrible and tragic thing, it’s still somewhat at an emotional distance.
Everyone has a family, though. And only some of them are happy.
In Pride and Prejudice, Austen spins a complex story involving the romantic relationships of several couples. And, with few exceptions, they are unhappy matches. Mr. Bennett snipes at his wife, who is too stupid to realize that he is mocking her. In turn, she is still a silly girl at heart, encouraging her daughters to emulate her folly. Lydia Bennett ends up running off with a wastrel and is only married because of the intervention of Mr. Darcy. Even Mr. Bingley and Jane’s match is tainted a bit for me, because Mr. Bingley appears incapable of making decisions for himself; rather, he only marries Jane after Mr. Darcy tells him to do so.
But the saddest of all, it seems to me, is the match between the pompous Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas. Upon discovering that he is seeking a wife, she carefully pursues him and secures a marriage with him. Does she love him? No. She admits as much. Rather, she desires the security of marriage, and she is getting old (at age twenty-seven) and is rather plain. So, she figures, this is the best that she can hope for.
And so we see them later. Mr. Collins is still pompous and does not realize that his wife despises him. She has organized the house so that she does not need to be near him, and she encourages him to garden so that he is out of the house frequently.
And this will be her life. Until she dies. Trapped in a loveless marriage that she pursued.
Proverbs 30:21-23 says:
Under three things the earth trembles;
under four it cannot bear up:
a slave when he becomes king,
and a fool when he is filled with food;
an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress.
I’ve been around long enough to see relationships like this, or, worse, relationships that blow up or fall apart. At least the Collins were without children. But how long could that last? And would you want to grow up in a cold, lifeless household like that?
Or maybe you did.
Murder…murder is a reality that is far from most of us. But these damaged relationships cut close to home. Very close to home.
Yesterday, I was grabbing my new bag to get some pencils for playtesting. There seemed to be an awful lot of stuff in the bag, though. Which was weird, given that I don’t really have a lot to put in that bag because of that whole being robbed thing.
So I opened my bag. Inside, I discovered a new copy of the game Hive, a new copy of the book Homicide, and a tin of Altoids. All things that had been stolen from me when my bag was taken.
My wife put them there. Because she loves me.
Hey, Barb! I still owe you a response to your question about Traffic and Crash and The Wire. Been a bit busy. However, I think that I have additional experience now to tack on to whatever answer I finally develop.
For those of you who don’t know, last Saturday, while Crystal and I were driving home from Erie (you know, after her mother died and all that particular joy), we were robbed. We stopped in Indianapolis at a Cracker Barrel and, while we were eating inside, parties unknown smashed one of the car windows and stole a bunch of stuff from the back seat.
So, I’m heading out to the car, while Crystal is, uh, attending to some business inside. I see a police car parked near our car. I’m thinking, “Oh no. What’s going on? We haven’t done anything wrong. It’s a rental car….” And so on and so forth. But I continue to walk the car.
Then I see the woman sitting in the passenger seat of the police car. This is a bit unusual. Normally, if you’re busted, you’re in the back of the car. Then I see her car and the shattered glass. Now I understand! She’s filing a report, and the police officer let her sit in the car, where it’s not quite so cold.
My heart goes out to the poor woman. “That’s terrible,” I think. “I can only imagine what that would feel like.”
And then I see our car, window similarly smashed.
Even then, it takes me a moment to realize that stuff is missing from the back seat.
I’m really surprised at how matter-of-fact I felt about it all. At least right then.
The rest of the scenario played out about how you’d expect. We talked to the police officer and filed a report of our own. The other woman, who actually works at the restaurant, ran back inside to check the security camera tapes. No dice; our cars were both conveniently in a dead zone of coverage. We canvassed the area a bit, hoping that the thieves had stashed our stuff somewhere to come back for it. Nope.
All of it was gone.
My laptop was gone. Among other things, it held my gaming archive, including various playtest versions of games, hard-to-find character sheets (like the sheets for The Mountain Witch). It also included notes for various games-in-progress, as well as my manuscript for Showdown.
My backups were on external hard drives, in case of hardware failure. They were in the laptop bag.
Those of you who have met me know that I carry a large black bag. I’ve done this ever since college. My bag is my toolkit for life. If I think that I might need something, I carry it in there. So, on our trip, my bag contained the following:
–my brand-new ESV Study Bible
–copies of each of my games (including my personal copy of Junk)
–my copies of Breaking the Ice and Shooting the Moon, each autographed by Emily Care Boss
–the game Hive, including the Mosquito expansion
–the book I was currently reading (Homicide by David Simon)
–the book I had finished reading (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)
–my PDA charger
–my phone charger
–several decks of cards
–a digital recorder
–a green plastic alien who dangled from one of the zippers, which had been a present from my sister Elizabeth
And more, of course.
My bag is an extension of myself, almost a portable sanctum.
The list goes on. Crystal’s dad had given her a couple pieces of jewelry that her mom had bought before she died. They were in another bag in the back seat, which was taken.
Several of my CDs, including one on loan from Raquel.
Gone. Gone. Gone.
They didn’t take everything, thank God. But they made out…well, they made out like bandits.
And somewhere in there, my emotions caught up with me. And, besides the anger and the sadness, there was this feeling of being offended. What had I done to these people that they treat me like this?
And then I felt violated. This was more than just my sense of security being shattered, though that’s certainly true. Rather, I felt attacked. These are things that I carry close to me, and they had been suddenly stripped from me. Violence had touched me, leaving me feeling exposed to the cold dark world.
I really needed that laptop to do work this week. Instead, I’m trying to do time-sensitive work while configuring a new computer. That’s frustrating.
I’m so used to carrying my bag everywhere that the lack of it is a constant reminder of what happened and what I lost. Crystal encouraged me to start putting together another bag, which I’ve done. But, it’s not really ready yet. And I’ll never be able to replace that green dangly alien.
And here I am, writing this, and I’m actually starting to cry over a silly plastic alien.
But it was special. It meant something to me. It was mine.
And someone stole it away from me. Just like that. Stole it and probably threw it away, because it wasn’t actually worth any money. Or worse, dangling from someone’s key ring as a trophy of that amazing smash-and-grab where they scored big.
If you have to be a victim of a crime, I guess this is the best kind. Neither Crystal or I were hurt. In fact, neither of us were physically threatened in any way. I mean, I’ve been reading Homicide, right? Those victims don’t get to walk away. So, I’m thankful to God for that.
And yet, we both are still feeling violated and hurt. And, honestly, there’s nothing to do except try to move on from here and say, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” And, by God’s grace, that’s what we shall do.
But, I suppose, I have also gained something. I have gained an immediate understanding of what it feels like to be a victim of crime. And, if nothing else, I will be better able to empathize with others who have been similarly victimized. And, perhaps, I will be better equipped to help stop others from being victimized, too.
And, lest anyone is concerned, yes, I still plan on making and playing crime games. I mean, after an experience like this, how could I stop?
Michael Miller of Incardine Press just announced that Serial Homicide Unit is available for purchase in electronic format at Indie Press Revolution. Our playtest group tested this back in November 2007, and it was a deeply affecting game. Plus, Michael sent me a copy of the electronic version, which is just really cool.
Have I mentioned that the entire game is an audio recording? It is! Yes, there are printed instructions, too, but you don’t need them. Just play the mp3s in order and learn how to play as you actually play. It’s a great idea, and I look forward to hearing how this release format works out for Serial Homicide Unit.
This would also be an excellent game to use to introduce someone to roleplaying who is already interested in crime stories, especially true crime or police procedurals. The rules are simple and straightforward, yet the end result is deeply moving.
As one who is part of the current wave of crime RPGs, I’m trying to point out quality examples of the genre to as many people as possible. A rising tide lifts all boats, as they say. So, if you’re at all interested in this genre of game, do yourself a favor and check out Serial Homicide Unit.
Hello, my loyal readers. Today I will tell you a small tale about the glory of God.
This afternoon, I went out to the alley to collect my trash cans. As I normally do, I looked into the trash cans to see what was sloshing around in them. Given that we’ve just had a fairly intense ice storm, it seemed like a reasonable thing to do.
In one of the trash cans was a purse.
I looked at it for a moment. It seemed like an odd thing to be in my trash can. But maybe we were throwing away a purse that had been a toy. But I’ve been trying to train myself to pay attention to small things. So I fished it out of the trash can. It was so soaked with water that it was dripping everywhere. I poked around at the contents.
It was someone’s purse.
Among other things, the purse included photo ID and a piece of official correspondence. So, I had a name and address. Patty (not her real name) from a South Side address.
We couldn’t find a phone number, so we drove down to the place indicated on the ID. It was actually just on the edge of where Downtown and South Side meet.
She wasn’t there. The address was a group home where her mother lived. But one of the women on staff said that she was normally through several times a week. We were all concerned, because no one had seen Patty for a few days. Eventually, I left the purse and my phone number.
And that would be that, I figured.
Except it wasn’t.
This evening, Patty called. She was overjoyed that her purse had found its way back to her. She said that she had been shopping at Campustown and someone stole it from the car. She thought that she’d never see it again.
I know that this might look like a story about a virtuous citizen helping another person. But that’s not what I see.
I see the glory of God. I see my amazing Father bringing healing to my hurting city. Sure, it was a small thing. But, to Patty, it was a big thing. Tonight, she experienced a little of the rescue and redemption of the Father of lights.
And I was there to see it.
I didn’t think that I’d get to see the end of this story. But I did. It was encouraging. I got to see the hand of God at work.
It was good.
Barb, I still owe you an answer. Between being sick and the blog server being switched over, I haven’t gotten there yet. But I will! I have a draft started and everything!
But, in the meantime, Paul Czege happened to link to something really, really useful for Dirty Cities:
The Office of National Drug Control Policy’s database of street terms for drugs.
I mean, how cool is that?
I can already envision portions of this working their way into Dirty Cities.
Plus, I am a geek.
Lord God, John Knox once prayed, “Give me Scotland or I die.” I confess that my vision is not as broad as his. But Lord…give me Peoria. Give me the South Side. Give me the Near North Side and Downtown and Bradley University and Renaissance Park. Give me the poor and the broken. Give me the prostitutes and the johns, the crack addicts and the drug dealers, the abused children and their abusers, the poor and the rich. Give me the broken of our city, the discarded detritus of our society, and build from them a temple for Your name.
And with it, Lord, give me an open and willing heart. Give me the love and compassion to reach out once again to the hurting who lash out. Give me the hospitality to open my home to the dirty and inconvenient. Give me the willingness to sacrifice my comfort, my sanity, and my privacy for the sake of those you send my way. Make me the kind of man that I need to be to carry out this mission.
Lord, I walk the streets and alleys of my city, and I see a people who desperately need You. Do not be far off.
Give me Peoria, Lord, or I die.