"to protect and serve"

I spent the weekend working on my project on Mexicanization of social spaces in North Carolina, which was both enormously interesting and a lot of fun (more about it later in depth and with illustrations, when I can collect my thoughts).

As I was driving back home I was lucky not to get killed when a fleeing thief slammed his car into my truck at high speed. He was being chased by the heroic Norfolk police following a break-in at a state ABC liquor store several miles away. Like most if not all high speed police chases, this one ended with a crash into some unlucky soul, which was me.

I didn't really have time to react, it happened so quickly. As the car came out of a side street faster than I could do anything but think "what the fuck, this guy is coming so fast!!!" I found myself crashed on the other side of the street facing the wrong way with my front end smashed, air bag blown and my truck cab filled with smoke. I have no memory of the time between the impact and the end of it, no sound, no image. I keep thinking about that moment of being crashed looking at the airbag. Luckily a car wasn't coming the other way or the whole thing could have been truly catastrophic.

Off to my right the policemen all jumped out of their cars with guns drawn. This is a sight I have seen two other times in Norfolk, but never from this particular vantage point of a smashed vehicle. God, I hate Norfolk. But I digress.

So the cops all had their guns drawn and and yelled at the liquor store thief not to move and the whole police thing. I am sure they were all thrilled to pieces to have been in a real live chase with guns drawn! In any case, the dude wasn't in shape to move, he was injured and his car had flipped over.

Within seconds there were at least a half dozen more police cars on the scene. Nobody, not a single cop, came to my aid until I started raising my voice at them demanding that someone deal with the situation. A female officer told me to watch it and walked off. Another did come to talk to me at least, and one particularly friendly one made a call for me to Skye, who was expecting me home and heard the sirens since this was less than a half mile from home.

Keep in mind that I am a taxpaying citizen of Norfolk who was a victim of an accident caused by the police. They showed almost no concern for what happened. Period. I received almost no information from the police, no apologies for this accident, extraordinary little sympathy, and almost no assistance.

Here is the TV video report. They toned it down from the initial reporting, which is to say they mostly cut my story out of it. The original report mentioned that I went to the hospital, this story below the video no longer does. It makes it seem like the truck was empty.

It is worth noting that no reporter ever contacted me to ask what happened. It is no surprise that local reporting is basically just an announcement of the police blotter, but it is pretty sad.

Actually, no cop asked me anything either. If you dent a bumper you have to fill out a police report. In this case, I kept having to interrupt a group of three cops standing around yuking it up to ask what the hell was going on and see what was to happen to me. As it was, I was taken to the hospital and then later released.

Here are some more pictures I took right before I was left. I wish I had had the wherewithal to take more when I was sitting around shivering on the sidewalk, but I was really shaken up and out of it and then later the EMTs were asking me to get in the ambulance. If you look in the back of this photo you can see the three officers standing shooting the breeze.

Luckily I had a big truck and wasn't going faster. If he had hit me broadside it probably would have flipped it considering how fast he must have been going.

Is there a more two-bit crime then knocking off a liquor store? Sure this guy was a bozo (assuming he actually did the crime) but the responsibility here clearly lies with the police.

What in the hell are the police doing pursuing a small property crime at high speed while endangering the lives of anyone unfortunate enough to be in the path of the chase? As it is I am injured and my truck is smashed, lucky nobody else is dead, paralyzed, or wounded.

Here is the epilogue to this overall disaster which perfectly illustrates the character of the Norfolk police department. When I was discharged from the hospital I asked some of the cops standing around to drive me home. After some reluctance, they agreed, but told me I would have to be patted down for weapons.

Ok, maybe this is department policy, I don't actually mind. But there are ways to do things that do not require mistreating people and there are other ways that reveal the attitude of disdain. The very large cop (much bigger than me and I am 6'3") who searched me felt compelled to grab my hands behind my back, twist them together and then up in an incapacitating way that meant I could not move, and then searched me for weapons. Was this little humiliation actually necessary? I can't imagine it was, but I am sure it made the cop feel tough.

Keep in mind that I was not being picked up for something, I was just the unlucky person who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, injured with a destroyed vehicle courtesy of the run amok police.

All class, the Norfolk police.


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