Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Eat my dirty, icy slush, hater!

A couple of quads and my elderly neighbor, yesterday. More pictures below. As always, click to enlarge. If you feel like it.

Is it unreasonable to expect a certain standard of peace and quiet, most of the time?

Apparently, it might be in Trenton.

Now, I realize the following:

  1. When one lives in the city, one can expect more "ambient" noise than when one lives in the suburbs, or in rural areas.
  2. My priorities, goals, perceptions, and interests are not the same as, say, my neighbors.
  3. Kids everywhere, not just in Trenton, complain of nothing to do, but in the case of Trenton, there really isn't that much for kids to do safely, compared with other locations (many other municipalities have relatively safe parks, movie theaters and other kid-friendly hang-outs). I'm not saying there's NOTHING for kids to do here. A bored person is often a boring person, right? We make our own fun, if we are given the right guidance. But it's harder in Trenton.
  4. Some kids, regardless of location, will behave badly. Trenton, however, seems to have a higher concentration of bad apples, based on reports of higher crime and shitty school performance.
  5. The police are busy, and must prioritize.
  6. Not every individual in an organization is going to perform 100%, 100% of the time.
  7. I am a fair and reasonable person. Believe it or not.

For the last few months, my neighborhood has been under siege by knuckleheads on off-road vehicles. This has been an on-again, off-again problem over here, but it is much worse lately. There are a lot of sensible reasons why riding off-road vehicles on the road is illegal. Namely, it's dangerous, stupid, brazen, and annoying as hell to the people who aren't riding off-road vehicles, which is probably only 50% of the city's population. But that includes me. And I have a blog.

In 2002, not too far from where I live, Leatha Barr was killed by a kid, Recardo McCoy, who was not only riding around — illegally — on an ATV on East State Street, but he was doing so, DURING A LARGE BICYCLE RACE. Maybe you remember that story. The case went to trial, and last June, ended — inexplicably — in a hung jury.*

Even if this sad story were not true, even if Leatha Barr were still alive, I'd still hate the ATVs riding around my neighborhood. It's a symptom of lawlessness and it pisses me off. It's ridiculous, and just should not be the case. Where I grew up, if you you took your ATV out on the road, you did so with your heart racing, full of terror, and a plan to get from Point A to Point B quickly, without incident, knowing full-well what you were doing was wrong. Ask my brother-in-law about the time he got busted by the Howell cops because he drove to visit my sister (while they were still in high school) on his damn snowmobile. I mention this, because I think it's almost (but not quite) okay to take a risk periodically if you expect you might get busted. I mean, that's what makes risk-taking fun and rewarding, right? Over here, it would appear I am the oddball for not riding an illegal vehicle around and around and around. I'm the oddball for thinking there are consequences for risky behavior. I'm the oddball for thinking the commonplace and mundane of my neighborhood are risky. But, there are consequences for this sort of stuff in the rest of the world, even if that isn't the case in my neighborhood.

Glen and I debate almost every time we hear the knuckleheads skidding in the street: do we call the police, or not. It's a tough call, because certainly, we know there are worse things happening in the city. They're just kids on motorbikes, right? Also, sometimes it seems the police are not terribly responsive, and while we don't know why that is, it is maddening. And, of course, certainly, we know the problems of police officers in vehicles designed to handle the road, pursuing vehicles driven by half-wits, that are not street-worthy. It's a disaster waiting to happen.

But it's also a disaster waiting to happen to NOT pursue these jerks. The St. Patrick's Day Parade is coming up: maybe the idiot up the street can rev up his four-wheeler, and mow down a couple of the very few out-of-town spectators, at one of the last big shindigs this city offers. That won't happen? Maybe tell that to the people who saw Barr get hit by McCoy at the bike race a few years ago.

Yesterday — the snow day — the ATV-ridin' knuckleheads were at it, and let me say that these ATVs are not snowmobiles; they're quads and dirtbikes. So they were skidding out of the alley and into the street — uh, just a couple blocks from the East Ward Police Station. Again, Glen and I debated: Do we call the police or not?

Glen decided to call. It went something like this:

Dispatch: Can I help you?
Glen: There are some off-road vehicles riding around on the street.
Dispatch: Typing. Hold please. Pause. Can you describe the vehicles?
Glen: One is green and one is red. One guy is wearing a helmet, but he has a kid on the back of his bike who isn't wearing a helmet. The other driver is not wearing one, either.
Dispatch: Can I have your name, address, and phone number?
Glen: Is this for reference or are the police going to stop by or call?
Dispatch: Oh, it's just for reference.
Glen: Okay. He gives the information.
Dispatch: More typing. Well, give us a call next time you see them driving around.
Glen: I called you because they ARE driving around now, the whole time we've been on the phone. They've been skidding in the street, and someone is going to get hurt. I can also tell you where the bikes are garaged.
Dispatch: Oh.
Glen: Should I have not have called?
Dispatch: Oh, you should have called.
Glen: I wasn't sure. I know it's hard for the police to do anything about this, but we saw officers on the block last week trying to round up these guys, and I thought maybe they'd want to try again. Someone is going to get hurt.
Dispatch: I'll let the officers know. Is that all?

We can't see everything from our house, and even if we could, it's not like we're looking all the time, so we don't know if the police showed up or not. If they did, we don't know if they caught the asses on the illegal vehicles, or not. If not, someday, I hope they do catch them, because I am THIS CLOSE to snapping.

If Trenton — and I'm not singling out the police department, even though this particular frustrating story involves the police dispatch — decided to enforce even ONE of its (or the state's) damn ordinances on a consistent basis, we'd be able to collect enough money in fines (or from the auction of the illegal vehicles) that MAYBE our mayor, "There But For the Grace of Doug Go I" Palmer, wouldn't try to close the libraries and sell our assets and charge entrance fees to the free pool. And maybe it would send a message to the criminals and knuckleheads that their behavior is no longer tolerated here.

* I wasn't sitting on that jury, so I don't know what was discussed. But the verdict still smells like bullshit to me.


DTV Deputy CleƤn said...

Is it too much to ask for a Darwin Award to be won on your block? Not by you or Glen, mind you.

ellbel33 said...

funny in contrast that trenton has sufficient resources to slap us w a ticket for the trash being out on a holiday. seems like the goal must be to drive the 50% non-atv riders crazy enough to leave.

Anonymous said...

I think the knuckleheads moved from my neighborhood to yours! When we saw they, we called the police and asked if they were legal. We were told yes by the dispatcher....go figure.


Anonymous said...

Two words: Land. Mines.