By Wyatt Earp | August 8, 2010
Ah, Sunday day work. If there is a better time to be a detective, I haven’t found it yet. The toads are sleeping off their crack-induced comas, the would-be victims are going to church, and the police officers are eating breakfast and reading the newspapers in their cruisers. In short, it is the least-busy day of the week.
Except in my division.
By 10am, we already handled four arrests, and not a good one in the bunch. The worst was the first, as it was chock full of nonsense. To wit:
Two officers come into the office at 7am with a theft arrest. They say that they responded to a radio call for a man breaking into cars on the block. The officers arrive to find who they think is the doer walking down the street, and stop him for investigation. One officer gets the alleged doer’s information, while the other checks out the car. Sure enough, the window is broken. Easy pinch, right?
The officers can’t find the owner of the car. The owner, obviously, is crucial to the case because he can say that the doer had no permission to enter the car. He can also determine if anything was taken. The alleged doer had nothing on him or in his pockets to indicate he was responsible for the theft.
The officers call for a sergeant. The sergeant, one of the biggest dolts in our division, arrives and listens to the story. Apparently, there is a “witness” that can put the alleged doer next to the car, but never in it. The witness, however, does not want to cooperate because the alleged doer lives on the block. He feels that if he snitches, he’ll open himself up to a whole range of future problems.
So, no owner, and no viable witness. No one can put the alleged doer in the car, and the doer had nothing on him. So, what does the good sergeant do? (Come on, you guys can answer this one.)
Yup. With no witnesses and no evidence, he orders the officers to arrest the alleged doer anyway.
The officers bring everything up and tell us what happened. To a man, we say, “You can’t lock this guy up for this.” The officers reply that their sergeant told them to lock the man up. Naturally, we asked the officers if the sergeant was coming up here to explain why he did that, the officers replied no. Of course not, because the sergeant knows he was wrong.
Look, in the real world, yeah, this toad probably broke into the vehicle. In the legal world, however, nothing this person did can justify charging him with the theft. Not without a complainant, a witness, or some physical evidence. In the end, we had the toad identified, checked him for active warrants, then released him with no charges.
And because this idiot sergeant ordered his arrest, the toad could have a nice little lawsuit on his hands if he so desired. Only in Philadelphia.