Monday, December 3, 2012

Questions, Questions!

I'm sure you've all dealt with it at some point or another. People asking you cop questions simply because you're a captive audience; you can't run, you can't hide...and they've got you for a minute or an hour and they're going to tell you how they see it.
I was just inundated with questions while I was at a NYC Salon---sitting in the chair, unable to move---the woman above wielding mighty weapons---and I found I had to try and answer her questions as best I could.
"So my friend asks the cop, why come you don't know these people don't live here?! Right? Right?" She is gesturing wildly at this point and let's face it, scaring the crap out of me. And before you think it's time to correct my grammar, she actually said why come. (She's originally from Russia.)
That said, what this woman was pontificating about was the fact that there had been some looting and issues related to the storm going on in her neighborhood. For those of you not familiar with Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, it's an area in Brooklyn also known as "Little Odessa," because there are a large number of residents who have come from Odessa, in the Ukraine, as well as a large community of Jewish residents who left the former Soviet Union to live there now. It is predominantly white, as neighborhoods go, with very little integration. To give those outside of NYC a good idea what I'm talking about: Manhattan is very integrated. A typical apartment building in Manhattan will house residents of every stripe; the Boroughs are still somewhat different, as they are cordoned off into unspoken lines of territory, commonly referred to as neighborhoods. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, I'm just saying that's what it is, and therefore the outrage by the woman at the Salon.
She felt the cops should know who belongs where and who doesn't; how could a police officer in Brooklyn not know about Brighton?! I agreed with her, but then went on to explain to her as patiently as I could that after the storm, the City pulled cops from everywhere to the areas that were hurting the most. Keep in mind that we have five very distinct Boroughs that make up New York City; each of them with their own flavor, and oddities, and each area has things about it that you would only know if you live or work there. Bronx cops almost never go to work in Brooklyn, as a cop in Manhattan would hardly ever go help out in Staten Island. No matter where an NYPD Officer is stationed, he/she will have a working knowledge of Manhattan and their respective borough, but that's about it. Right after the Storm, they sent my husband out to storm-ravaged areas in Brooklyn and Queens, and they often had to rely on the cops from those Boroughs to point out to them the troubled areas, the access roads, and sometimes even just practical stuff, like where they should eat or go to the bathroom.
The general public's perception that every NYPD Officer should know every nook and cranny of all five Boroughs is a bit off; they just don't understand the way the NYPD works. Perhaps the NYPD could have gotten the message out a little better in the aftermath of the storm...perhaps this woman just wanted to bitch. I know for sure that they even pulled the kids recruits that were still in the Academy for a couple of days; they put them on posts and let them direct traffic where stoplights were out. It was all hands on deck, which sometimes means that a Bronx hand will be called out to help over in Brooklyn.

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