Last night, I walked across the street and introduced myself to the cop sitting in the car across from my house.
Every couple of nights for the past two weeks, I noticed a police car parking there at about 11 at night. The car would sit there for a while, then turn around in my driveway and leave. Last night, for once, I wasn't already in my pajamas sipping on an evening Bailey's when I noticed him pull up.
And I really wanted to know what the heck was going on.
No matter what you personally think of the cops, intel is intel.
Before we got any deeper into this story, let's talk about the elephant in the room. Most folks fall on one side or the other on the "police" argument. They either think that cops can do no wrong and have a thin blue line sticker on the back window of their truck, or they feel that the police are just there to generate revenue and harass innocent people who are simply going about their day. While the minarchist in me chafes at things like speeding tickets, etc, I still try to form my opinions people by their actions and their respect (or lack of it) for others – regardless of the uniform they're wearing.
But this article is not about that argument. In fact, it doesn't really even matter which way you feel about cops to use the suggestions I'm about to offer.
Police officers can be an incredible source of information about the goings-on in your neighborhood. Since we recently relocated to a new neighborhood here in the same town, I'm hungry for the details.
Why was there a cop in front of my house every night?
So I was curious…why, in this pleasant neighborhood where people walk their dogs down the tree-lined streets by day and sit on their rocking-chair studded front porches with a cup of tea by night, would a police officer be staking it out on a nightly basis? And not just one police officer – some nights, two cars would sit across the street for hours.
And of course, there is always that little frisson of paranoia – was I suspected of doing something wrong in the eyes of the law? I knew this was pretty ridiculous since our family tends to be quiet and the only "illegal" thing I could think of doing was running out of poop bags while walking the dog. (Note: I went home, grabbed an extra bag, and ran back to pick up my pooch's offering.)
When I saw the car pull up last night and stop, I went outside. I said, "Hi!" and waved to him non-threateningly from across the street. Then I asked, "I was just wondering if anything was wrong since I see you sitting in front of my house every night?"
He got out of the car and walked over to my side of the road. He said, "No, there's nothing wrong, really. But you'll see us a lot, protecting the neighborhood."
"Protecting the neighborhood? We're new here, and I'm curious, protecting the neighborhood from what?" I asked. "Is this a bad neighborhood?" I was truly shocked because the neighborhood looks like every parent's dream neighborhood, with cars driving slowly and kids riding their bicycles amidst well-kept hundred-year-old homes. And when I'd checked the police reports before renting the place, crime was pretty much non-existent.
He went on to tell me that the apartment complex down the road was notorious for drug deals.
Playing the role of naive soccer mom, I asked, "Drug deals!!!! Oh my, are there meth labs there?"
He said, no, no, don't worry. It was mostly lower level stuff. He assured me that there was virtually no violent crime in the neighborhood and that even property crime was incredibly low. And he heard my 140-pound dog's deep, booming bark from inside the house. He said, "Even if there was property crime, they probably wouldn't pick a house with a dog like that inside. People around here don't want trouble."
So, I learned some valuable information.