Is the San Bernardino Police Department Parking Empty Police Cars to Deter Crime?
ADAM MICHAEL LUEBKE
loaded & leery in San Bernardino
“Lock your doors and load your guns.” — James F. Penman, San Bernardino city attorney, routinely tells worried citizens asking how to protect themselves.
After four violent crimes on the campus of California State San Bernardino, we took comfort in seeing the increased police presence, until I realized that the SBPD cruiser parked across the street from my apartment every day did not have an officer in it.
Is the San Bernardino Police Department using that old mountain town tactic I’ve seen so often, where the sheriff parks an outdated police car just outside of city limits so people hit the brakes and slow down through town? Once you come upon it, you can see the black and white panels faded by the sun and the flashers are dingy.
The locals, of course, never slow. The police car is a part of the landscape.
For more than four days, the police car has sat empty. It has not been moved.
I went to investigate. Maybe the officer had suffered a heart attack and nobody checked on him. Or maybe he was staked out in the back, behind the tinted rear windows, peering out and searching for potential criminals.
Two Good Americans Talk Crime & California’s Future
I took photos of the empty police cruiser. Another man approached me while I investigated. I took a defensive stance at once. Flashing a smartphone in San Bernardino is a good way to become a victim. I sized up the stranger.
He wore a red Philly’s hat that seemed to make the day feel even hotter than it was every time I looked at it. His white t-shirt was also sports related, and the baggy polyester shorts he wore matched his hat.
“Where’s the cop?” he asked me, stuttering a little. He looked me up and down.
I’d just gone to the gym. My sweatpants were a pristine white, and my long sleeved shirt was a clinging tight workout top, the same clean white color. He probably thought I was a saint drifted in from the desert. Unsoiled and radiant in all my pale blonde glory beneath the Southern California laser beam sun.
I tried to dispel the saint myth at once by talking in slang. You have to act like a local if you want to get a genuine local response. “Cop ain’t here,” I said. “Not been here for about three days at least and going on four so what do you know about that?”
He lifted his hat off his head and re-situated it. His hair was sweaty and wet beneath. “We just been at the softball game all afternoon and thought it was awfully nice to have a cop out here being there’s been the recent string of violent crimes ’round here and all of that.”
He looked at my clothes again. “Say, you coming from church or something?”
“Not today. I’m currently investigating the situation,” I told him. “I’m an intrepid local journalist concerned for my embattled desert community.”
“Intrepid?” he asked.
I thought he was insulting me. “Listen,” I started to say, and was going to tell him I might not be the bravest soul in the world, but snooping around an empty cop car was eerie, especially since we couldn’t see into the back seat.
My friend in the ball cap looked over the car. “This isn’t an Intrepid,” he said with concern. “It’s a Crown Victoria. They don’t even make Intrepids no more.” He squinted into the sun. “I would know, I used to own one. You’re gonna need to broaden your expertise for this story, I’m afraid.”
“I’ll manage,” I told him.
The man reached out a hand to touch the vehicle.
“Don’t touch it!” I said. “I think that’s a felony.”
He jerked his hand to his hip. “I just thought of something. They might have this car out here just for the dashboard camera to pick up on any criminal activity.”
“I doubt it,” I said. “It’s a limited camera angle, first of all, and criminals, as stupid as some are, won’t stand in front of the police cruiser and steal an iPhone or carjack a student. It’s not a great tactic if that’s it.”
“Welcome to San Bernardino,” the man said. “Where there’s hardly ever a tactic.”
Many people call San Bernardino ‘little Detroit’ because it is second only to the crumbled Motor City in poverty, homelessness, lack of employment options, drug dealing, and criminal gang activity. Some people in Stockton, California get jealous when they hear the honor of ‘little Detroit’ bestowed on San Bernardino.
“Our city is much, much worse,” I’ve heard Stocktonites argue. “We’re the most miserable city.” Who’s to testify about these things?
The majestic mountains and hills, and the clever assortment of desert wildlife that resides in them must look down on our city in shame and disgust. It’s beyond pity, now.
I can only imagine during the arduous trial of the Judgment Day the indictment of the onslaught of human indecency toward one another and every other living organism. Most people don’t seem concerned about the Judgment Day, but the rest of us are preparing our personal endurance for a lengthy testimony from every creature, beast, and crawling thing that ever roamed the earth.
“They poisoned our water, and then they sucked it all up. They paved over our land. They choked our air with toxic fumes. They killed us for sport. They slaughtered each other and didn’t even know why,” is how it will go.
The next round of damning affirmation to the vicious, confused crimes of modern humans might come from our hands themselves as they bear witness to the deeds done, as claimed by the animals.
These statements are highly controversial.
What is clear, however, is the need for a large, organized police presence in San Bernardino, but there’s a severe lack of officers after the city went bankrupt in 2012 and couldn’t afford a full force.
Perhaps they have extra cruisers to park in troubled areas and hope that strikes fear in the hearts of burglars, rapists, and gang members.
I’ve been assured, however, that the Cal State campus and about three hundred feet around it in all directions is “relatively safe”. That seemed truthful when I was under the impression that the police cars posted in the parking lots actually had vigilant officers in them.
The crimes that have everyone on edge are the following, and they happened in the span of a week:
- A man told a student he had a pair of shoes to sell. The student was taken off guard, the man pulled a handgun, and he stole the student’s car. He forced the student to ride along, maybe for company, or maybe to sequester him from calling the authorities. The man punched the student repeatedly, robbed him, then dumped him off somewhere in the city. The carjacker crashed the car on the 215, then carjacked a Lexus. He was arrested days later in Los Angeles.
- Next, a big African American man forced the smartphone from the hand of a student in the same gym parking lot as the carjacking. He jumped into a vehicle driven by a woman, and they sped away.
- Next, a young woman was forcibly kissed by a Hispanic man in the stairwell at the John Pfau Library. He tried to rip off her pants, but she kicked him in the groin and was able to slip away.
- After that, another young woman was grabbed from behind. A hand was placed over her mouth, and a male voice said into her ear that she would be taking a ride in his car. She elbowed him and squirmed away.
- A day later a 22-year Art Institute woman disappeared. Her belongings were scattered beneath bushes outside her apartment complex. It was 6am. She was going to get on the bus and head to her library job at a different college. She still has not been found or heard from as of this writing.
A Posthuman Solution
Families were packing coolers in their cars and hauling half-empty cartons of beer cans across the parking lot. The stout softball girls were carrying their gear. Everybody was out of earshot. I leaned closer to my friend. “There is a police tactic you might not have heard about before.”
My friend raised his eyebrows.
“Let’s face it. San Bernardino is bankrupt. California is hundreds of billions short all the time. They can’t hire enough
police to snuff out the Mexican drug runners and the street gangs, and keep peace and order in a state where 12 percent unemployment would be a blessing compared to what it really is.”
He leaned closer.
“The big thing now is to use holograms.”
“Holograms?” he asked.
“Like what they did with TuPac at Coachella a couple years back.”
“That was just for public consumption to grease the skids for the bombshell revelation that will happen someday soon, when we find out at least half of our police force in poor states like California are intricate, complex holograms that look so unbelievably real we wouldn’t question their physical existence.”
My friend stared at the police cruiser. “It looks pretty real to me.”
“It might be. But,” I said, “look hard at the windows. Every so often you can almost see the lights of the laser refresh for a fraction of a second.”
After scrutinizing the windshield, then the tinted rear windows, my friend shook his head. “This one’s real. I can tell. When I saw the video of that TuPac hologram on YouTube, I could tell straight away it wasn’t real.”
“You think the Pentagon and the Defense Intelligence Agency would make public their advanced technology for a bunch of drunk and sweaty college kids groping each other in a pit? You think that was the best hologram that could be done?
“As Phil Schneider told us, for every year of technology we have on the street, the Pentagon has advanced forty-four years behind closed doors.
“Michio Kaku, the famed theoretical physicist, has admitted multiple times on radio shows that the US government’s top agencies are at least fifty years ahead of us in technology.”
To Distract & Protect
My sports friend shook his head. “I can’t imagine what they could do next,” he said, “after the iPhone.”
“I’ll tell you what’s coming down the pipeline,” I said. “Robots that look like humans. Holograms of law enforcement officials. Pop star holograms to appease the public as robots steal their minimum wage jobs and we all become welfare slaves to the state.
“We’ll see Michael Jackson do a world tour. Whitney Houston. John Denver. John Lennon. Ritchie Valens. Roscoe Holcomb. Dimebag Darrell.
“They’ll bring back Richard Nixon just to do a C-Span talk. And Robert E Lee to discuss why he kept pushing his ragged army North. Why not?” I said.
My friend was still staring at the police cruiser. “I thought I saw it shimmer,” he said.
“Imagine,” I continued, “your smartphone the size of a blood cell, injected directly into your body to cluster in neural hot spots of your brain, to enhance your ability to think, to detect any disease before it starts and activate the body’s defense systems, bolstered by nanobots, to prevent it, and to project images in front of your left eye as you walk around so you can mentally scroll the Internet and be subject to constant information and advertising without any actual physical device.”
“They aren’t going to allow that for just anybody,” he said. “You got to be somebody to get that technology.”
“That’s our game plan, then, from now until the next five years. Become somebody. Somebody worthy of elite technology. Somebody the elite families of the planet believe is worthwhile enough to save. Because you’re right, they’ll weed out billions as ‘useless eaters’.”
In my reverie, I broke my rule and I slapped the hood of the police cruiser. I’d done that before with my own car dozens of times while standing around talking with the guys. Putting one’s fist down hard on the hood to make a hollow thump is a commanding way to drive home a point. It should only be done to vehicles you own.
“I’ve done it now,” I said. I took off in a slow jog through the parking lot. “It’s best we disperse!”
“I guess it’s real,” my friend called to me. He turned and ran toward the families getting into their cars.