Monday, April 28, 2008

Rogers Park Initiation (Welcome to the Hood)

The Glenwood Bar's initiation into Rogers Park came just past midnight. Open for less than a month, they're already getting a feel for the hood.

At a quarter past midnight, a bartender at The Glenwood was "having trouble removing a drunk customer," according to the 24th District dispatcher. Not the typical customer behavior at The Glenwood, a friendly and cozy pub on a quiet back street.

At 12:20 a.m., a marked and an unmarked car were in front of the joint. Across the alley, next to Ms. Eggroll, a drunk young man was whining his predictable protests to CPD officers. It ended without incident, but...

The Bench snapped a photo while standing on quiet, lightly traveled N. Glenwood. Suddenly, for the detective on scene, I was the main attraction. Oh man, I thought, as the big detective walked toward me, here we go again. Another cop on a power trip, allowing himself to be distracted from the task at hand by an itch on his ego.

"Why you taking pictures of my vehicle?" he asked.

"Your vehicle?" I asked, silently thinking that he doesn't own it. We do, you and me.

"Web sites, newspapers, whatever," I asked. He moved a tad bit closer, enough that I could see "F----" on his little brass nameplate.

"You can't be in the street," he said, authoritatively.

"Am I breaking some law by standing here?" I asked.

"You're creating a public nuisance," he said, adding, "If you get hit by a car it's my problem."

"Seems your problem is that drunk over there, F----," I said, immediately adding, "What is your rank?"

"I'm a police officer," he said.

"Yes, well I don't want to disrespect you by calling you 'F----.' I'd rather call you 'Sergeant F----' or 'Lieutenant F----.' So what's your rank?" I stared at his name plate.

"It's F----," he said, noticing my stare, "F-*-*-*-*. Make a note of it."

"Oh, I just did, Officer F----. I just did."

Fortunately for F---- and the other two cops on the event, the drunk didn't suddenly go crazy, pull a weapon, and hurt anybody. If that had happened while Officer F---- was allowing himself to be distracted by a citizen exercising his First Amendment rights on a quiet cobblestone street in the calm of a Sunday night, it would have been a much bigger problem than me having to casually step out of the way of an oncoming car.