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Fortunately for me, I have not been one that spent a lot of time at a police precinct. That can be interpreted in several ways, but I mean it primarily in terms of the fact that I didn’t feed into any stereotypes or “expectations” of your typical Latino that grew up in the so called ghetto.
Recently my son was struck by a vehicle while hanging out with one of his buddies, I covered this story here and here. Part of the post accident process was to decide whether or not to take him to the hospital. Of course I chose to take him to get checked out at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
During the hustle of getting to the scene of the accident, and getting to the hospital on an ambulance, I neglected to get any paperwork from the officer on the scene. In fact I didn’t really know that I needed any as my son was on foot. But after watching so many movies, and police dramas, I should have known that I’d need a police report. Upon arriving at the hospital I was asked for said police report. Huh? I don’t have anything, they just ushered me into an ambulance and we took off as soon as I arrived. Don’t worry though, I have medical insurance, albeit more expensive medical insurance (ahem), but I have insurance. They said, “oh, we don’t need that, we’ll bill you.” Uhm, ok…..
Turns out that when a vehicle is involved they prefer to take the insurance information from the drivers for the bill. So they asked me for my drivers insurance. Hello??? I wasn’t driving, and I don’t have a car, how does this crap make any sense? That’s when the police report really came into play, the hospital wanted to do a “no fault” report, and require the driver’s information. Which I did not have as was previously established. I proceeded to grill the admin person for assurances that this situation wasn’t going to totally screw me over financially. She assured me that once I had the insurance we’d be fine.
As I required this information, I had to dig up who serviced our accident, and what precinct they were from. I managed to get through to the 112th precinct once on the phone, during that phone call I was able to get some of the information I would require to pick up the report. After that first time though, no matter how much I called, I could never get them on the phone again, I merely encountered an endless automated system, and lots of ringing with no answer.
Fortunately for me, I have some friends that are always on the ready to make fun of me on Facebook. In the process of that humorous display of wit, I was able to extract the remaining information that I required from the many sarcastic posts I received. Lol. Thanks K. S!
My first impression upon arriving at this precinct was that it is much nicer than I expected. Then it hit me, this precinct covers Forest Hills! For those of you that don’t know, Forest Hills is not one the grimiest area in Queens, NY. As far as precincts go, this could be one of the cushier gigs an officer could get in a city like New York.
I remember the precinct by me growing up in 169th street in the South Bronx. Even walking pass this precinct too slowly was enough to get you brought up on a car theft charge! True story! People often argue with me, they say that Latinos are disproportionately targeted by the NYPD for arrests. This may very well be true, I did encounter it a few times, especially when hanging around this particular Bronx precinct, God forbid I actually stopped walking for more than 5 minutes around here!
“Come here little boy! What are you doing here? What do you want? *Grabbed me and turned me around* Get up against the car you punk! Do you have any weapons or tools on you? Any items that can poke me? What the hell are you thinking? Are you trying to steal one of our cars? That’s my car right there boy, don’t let me find out that you freaked with it.”
Well, thank goodness I didn’t have a weapon on me that day, and thank God that my trade at the time didn’t involve anything having to do with tools. I have, and will always maintain that if you don’t give them a reason, the cops can’t get you! Maybe we are targeted, but if like me, you are not carrying a weapon or suspect tools, and you are in fact not trying to steal a car, the popo will generally have to leave you alone. Sure they can set you up, sure they can plant evidence, but let’s be real, how often is that really happening?
Although, I have to say, I don’t know what kind of person would actually attempt to steal a police officer’s vehicle, or parts from it in front of a damn police precinct in the South Bronx? Though I was young and ignorant as to my rights as a citizen back then, as this officer slammed me against the car, and frisked me for any “contraband,” I did ask him that question. “Sir, who would be stupid enough to steal from you guys in front of your house?” He said I was lucky I was clean, and that I’d be surprised what people do for a quick drug fix. Then he shoved me away and told me to get the freak out of there and stay out of trouble. So I said “Yes sir,” and I left. Thinking about that now, I’d probably handle it similarly, but I’d have taken his badge number and filed a complaint! But again, I was a kid, I was scared and uninformed. I wanted to get the hell out of there as soon as I could.
The point is, these cops in the Bronx were on edge, very mean and aggressive. The cops here at the 112 were much cooler in demeanor and pretty easy to talk to. Then again I am an adult, and I don’t think I appear threatening. Back then I was a kid in a bad neighborhood, wearing baggy pants, a green vest with many pockets, and I have lines on my head and eyebrows. LOL.
So when I walked into the precinct, a female officer greeted me at the front desk. I said hello and I cracked a few jokes with her, then explained why I was there. While I waited I greeted a few more officers, and watched them joke around with one another. After a few short moments she found my police report. I paid for the report, by the way, you have to make a $10 money order payable to the NYPD. This was one of the questions I had for the operator of the ever ringing never answered phone! This was surprisingly one of the easiest transactions I have ever conducted in my entire life. She had the paper report sitting in a drawer in the front desk.We cracked a few more jokes, a phone call came in, so I waved and then I left the precinct. Easy peasy!