Last night, Roc was working with Ivan when a call came over for a suspicious substance. As they approached the storefront church, they batted around the idea of calling in ESU or Hazmat. They figured they would go check it out themselves and then see what they needed to do next.
They met the Pastor at the gate to his Church. For those of you who live outside of an urban environment, keep in mind that there are often storefronts rented to various religious organizations in the City and that they look and operate just like a traditional storefront: they have a metal gate that pulls down in front of the door and windows, and in order to get in or out of the facility, they need to roll up the gate.
That said, the Pastor was standing there waiting for the Police with the gate rolled halfway up, a concerned look on his face. Roc said he was clearly agitated and pointing to a powdery substance on the ground, right underneath where he had pulled up the gate.
It was dirt. Roc said the gate was filthy, the powder looked like grey silt, and it was very obviously dirt. Perhaps left over from salt and sand this winter...perhaps having just lodged in the gate for a while, and suddenly disturbed by the gate being opened...either way, a tiny pile of rather innocuous DIRT.
They tried to explain to the Pastor that he was not in danger; that dirt occurred on a semi-regular basis in the South Bronx. He wasn't having it. They didn't want to offend the man, and point out that the entire exterior of his Church was in fact, filthy...so they tried another tack. And another. Eventually, they had to call in a Supervisor and have the call documented so that they were not accused of blowing off a job. When Roc's Sergeant arrived, Roc explained to him that if the NYPD was not they way it had become (constantly double-checking an Officer's work; always looking to appease so-called community leaders, not allowing Officers to use their own judgement and handle a job with their own particular wisdom and style...I can go on here) that he would not have bothered him with the call. The Sergeant nodded in understanding and then proceeded to step in and back up his Officers. He assured the Pastor that the substance was indeed dirt.
When Roc told me this story when he came home I waited a few beats before I intoned, "It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it."