Saturday, May 14, 2011

Stop! You're under arrest! © by adrian

"Stop!" I commanded. Quickly reaching inside my suit jacket pocket I pulled out an official looking wallet. I flipped it opened and flashed the enclosed card at him. Across the top of the card in bold letters was the word PRESS. I was holding in my hands the fake Press Pass I had printed just a few weeks earlier.

"You're under arrest." I said. He dropped some tool he held in his hands and as he rose to his feet from a crouching position between two cars he put his hands in the air and quietly surrendered.

It was just about now that I realized I hadn't really thought past this point when I earlier played this little drama over in my mind. I didn't have the foggiest clue what I should do next. It was now very obvious to me that I should have prepared a tiny, tiny bit more. I hadn't understood how easy it was going to be to arrest someone with a Press Pass and I guess I thought he would just get scared and run away and that would be the end of it. Well, apparently not, and I was now the proud holder of the prisoner I had just arrested. I had made my first "collar" as is said in police circles.

It was eleven o'clock on a summer's night and the events that led to why I had just arrested my first criminal with a fake press pass and why I was now desperately trying to decide what to do next began a few weeks earlier.

Let me explain.

A few of my friends and I often parked our cars in the corner of a service station's parking lot near my apartment. We had permission from the owner to do so, but lately somebody had started taking the air out of our tires or opening the car hood and disconnecting the distributor cap wires whenever we parked there, making the cars temporarily inoperable (this was back in the 60's, long before they had locks on car hoods).

I felt this required an intervention I was easily capable of handling. I would park my car in its usual spot so I could see it from my balcony and sit there for however long it took and wait. As soon as the culprit appeared, I would then run downstairs and make a citizen's arrest. What could be simpler? Well, who knew? Apparently nothing could be simpler, but as I said, now what?

He stood there staring at me with his hands in the air and I couldn't believe how stupid the situation I had so carefully plotted was becoming. I do remember a slight moment of relief as I realized he wasn't much bigger than me. I don't know why that struck me as important, I was hardly going to do physical battle with him, but up to that moment I had no idea who or what would emerge from between the cars. I was glad to see I hadn't "arrested" King Kong. The local police station was four blocks away and I remember muttering something to him like, "The boys with the cruiser are out on another call right now so we will have to walk over to the station ourselves." I should add that because I rarely seem to miss any opportunity in life to turn stupid situations into really stupider ones, I then found myself adding, "You can lower your hands now and if you promise not to run, I will give you a break and not handcuff you." My prisoner then promised not to run as he lowered his hands. Sigh...

So, start walking we did, on our way to the police station. I wasn't sure, but I thought I could feel a song coming on. Where was my top hat and cane? Surely I had somehow trapped myself in a piece of musical theater and now was the time for my dance routine. Why had I forgotten to wear my spats? As we walked along together I tried my best to sound official and authoritative. At twenty five years of age it wasn't an easy task as mostly all I could think of at the time was what a complete idiot I was. As we started to get closer to the police station, I suddenly remembered one other small detail I seemed to have forgotten till now. I wasn't a policeman at all. I also realized I didn't know how I was going to handle that bit of sticky news once we got to the station. Maybe I could just march the culprit into an open cell and call out to the staff sergeant to "book him" as I'd seen done in so many movies and then I could be on my way before anybody noticed I didn't belong there.

To all appearances we were just a couple of guys out for an evenings stroll. Nothing particularly unusual except for the fact that one of us was assumed to be a cop and the other thought he was under arrest by the aforementioned pretender. In case you've never considered it, I can also tell you right now that it's really difficult to make small talk when you have just arrested someone. As we walked along I casually explained to him that many people had made complaints to the station about his actions and none of us could imagine why he would do such a thing. Surely he understood that disabling cars the way he did was completely illegal and caused many innocent people great difficulty. He said that he hadn't really thought about it much and as far as he was concerned, people were parking in what he regarded as "his parking spot" and he felt if he damaged their cars everybody would stop doing it and find someplace else to park and he could have his parking space back. I continued to lecture him and explained that all the boys at the station and I thought he was very misguided.

Five minutes later and there we were at the steps of the local police station. I guess if I was capable of panic, this would have been the perfect time for me to explore that side of my personality to the fullest. In that moment I felt at the very least I should have had enough sense to flee. Even back in my younger days though, I mostly always wanted to hang around when I was being a fool so I could get to watch how I would handle my predicament and what I was going to do next.

Anyway, up the steps we went and walked right in. I went directly over to the desk sergeant as though I had done this a thousand times before. He casually looked up from his typewriter and asked, "What can I do for you fellows tonight?"

I knew right off that there was no turning back now so I calmly explained that I had just made a citizen's arrest of this chap and wanted him booked and locked up for malicious damage to my and other peoples cars. Not surprisingly, the sergeant thought that was pretty funny and I understood by his chuckle that he knew right off this was turning out to be a much better night than he originally thought was in store for him.

It was just about now my prisoner realized that I wasn't a cop at all and he became extremely agitated about that detail. He started sputtering that he wanted the desk sergeant to arrest me for impersonating a police officer and false imprisonment. I explained that I never at any time said I was a policeman and hadn't imprisoned him as he had been able to leave any time he wanted. I even pointed out that in fact I had simply invited him to walk to the station with me and he had joined me of his own free will. He then insisted I had falsely shown him a police identification card otherwise he never would have complied. The staff sergeant looked from one to the other of us with amusement as he waited to hear what either of us would say next. I pulled out my press pass and showed it to the sergeant and explained that was what I had shown my prisoner and if he decided it said Police that was his problem.

Various verbal exchanges went back and forth for a bit longer and then the sergeant explained to the other fellow that I hadn't broken any law so there was nothing he could do. He then told me that what I could do if I wanted was go to small claims court and go after him for damages but he pretty well thought that was a lost cause and he wasn't going to lock him up either. He then suggested that at this point the offender had probably learned his lesson and we should both see to it that none of this went any further and he sent us on our way.

I can't remember what we talked about as we went back to the scene of the crime, but we stayed walking together all the way back to the cars. He never did anything to any of our cars again and every time we saw each other on the street we forced ourselves to wave friendly greeting to each other.

I continued to use my fake press pass to get into events I wanted to photograph but I never again tried to arrest anybody.