Monday, July 12, 2010

My Tax Dollars at Work

Cross-posted and archived from DC Metro Moms. Original post date November 6, 2007.

Coming home from a work trip this past weekend I noticed a business card from the County Sheriff's department by my front door. Grrr... I knew exactly what it was for but I asked my husband anyway. "Hon? Why is there a card from the Sheriffs department by the front door? Did they come by about the new signs?" He replied that, yes they did, and it was then that my blood began to boil.

See my husband and I run a business. We regularly put up signs to advertise this business throughout our county. It is all A-OK to do so in most areas but there are some that are verboten. Sometimes our sign guys put them up in a no-ad zone and we get a fine. A $100 a sign fine. Wait. That isn't what makes my blood boil. Just wait.

We get these fines a few times a year and we promptly pay them. It's not a big deal and it happens to all of us in the business at some time or other. Notice that I said we pay promptly. As in as soon as we get the insipid notice. But you know what? The County Sheriff's department still takes the time to make a personal house call. Full of swagger and bravado the officers cruise up to the house and make us show ID in our own home and the fine letter. They ask if we intend on paying said fine. Usually the fine has already been paid but apparently they just zipped on over here too quickly to figure that part out. We tell them 'yes, it's been paid' and they leave. They don't actually collect the money. It's just a "friendly" house call.

This is when my blood boils. They come over here and check on us like we are some kind of criminals without consulting their records first. The police take the time out of their busy crime-fighting days to inquire about sign fines?! Yet on record they are one of the all out worst at showing up for domestic violence matters. Just ask my neighbor. In one instance a woman had been stabbed and left for dead (she did in fact die) for three whole days before they showed up on the scene. Yet they had been notified of the disturbance days before. My husband has to hold me and my tongue back when they show up for the sign fines. I want to physically launch myself out the door and verbally give those officers a tongue lashing for this type of bureaucratic BS. The effort and cost to ensure that we pay a sign fee is so much more important than saving someone's life is exactly what this says to me. It just astounds me that this is what is important to them.

I'm not saying that the police are not doing their jobs. I'm willing to wager that the officer who has to drive to my house feels a bit chafed that this is the type of police work he is assigned to do. Yet when this is the type of police work my county officers are regularly doing and our county is known throughout the state of Virginia to have one of the worst response and punishment records on the issue of domestic violence it just makes me wonder. Are we doing all that we can? No. Are the police working in the way they need to be? I'm not so sure. I'm going to say no though. What I do know is that one of these days I will blow right past my husband when the Sheriff shows up and I will ask him a few pertinent questions or five and see what kind of response I get then. Until then all I can do is post a sign or two and hope someone else hears me. That lack of laws and the the twisted way the legal system and the police forces work often times takes too long, has little action, or simply doesn't protect the DV victim enough. It has got to end. We can't keep losing lives and having so little repercussions for the violence we are enacting against others.

Dawn said...

Oh that would make me mad, too!! You should get a big 'ole sign and hang it on the door at police headquarters, lol.

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