Friday, June 15, 2007

IF YOU’RE A TAGGING TEEN, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHO IS WATCHING YOU! IT JUST MIGHT BE A JUDGE…AND NOT JUST ANY JUDGE

By Diana L. Chapman

This is one of those wonderful stories where you wished all tagging incidents ended up this way.
Take the two teenagers, around 17, who decided on a Saturday night this month to start penning their street jargon on electrical boxes around 13th Street and Pacific Avenue.
Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for us, a local Superior Court Judge Peter Mirich, who serves both the San Pedro and Catalina court houses, was ambling along the road in a car on his way to get something to eat.
When he spotted the teens with their pens marking the boxes, stop signs and park benches, he followed them watching diligently as they continued tagging one spot after another. That’s when the judge began calling the police.
If you think the judge has much more pull then we do, he still found himself going through the frustrating web of black hole phone calls. He started out first calling Los Angeles Police Department’s main line and asking to be connected to the Harbor Division.
The staff person on the line refused to connect him, he said, calling a tagging incident, a “low priority, and that if I contacted (the taggers) it was at my own risk.” But if you know the judge – nothing like this could be a low priority. Having been born and raised around San Pedro, he – like most of us – find tagging and graffiti a major drain on our urban lives as a constant, needling reminder of needless destruction continuously injected into our psyches.
As all of us have sadly and angrily watched the bombardment of graffiti over the years, the judge, decided despite the rebuff on the phone, he would not give up.
“I was then placed on hold and followed the taggers to 9th Street,” the judge e-mailed me. “Finally, (while still on hold), I spotted a patrol car and flagged it down.”
The judge never stopped his quest to nab the taggers. The officers agreed to follow him and together they looked for the taggers – which later led to both of their arrests. Once the police were on hand, he said, he was extremely impressed with their professionalism.
This lesson taught me that even a judge can run into problems with the law cooperating! And the judge’s advice to all of us is to think about carrying the Harbor Division phone number so witnesses can call directly to the area, instead of the regional lines, to get much more likely action on those so low, priority calls.
And to all those taggers out there, all I can say is: “Here come the judge!” AWESOME.

1 comment:

Eric Morgan said...

This is a good article, which has a good ending for all. But, you end with the warning, "And the judge’s advice to all of us is to think about carrying the Harbor Division phone number so witnesses can call directly to the area, instead of the regional lines, to get much more likely action on those so low, priority calls."
Why not give out the Harbor Division phone number!

221 North Bayview Ave.
Wilmington, CA 90744
310-513-7017 Voice
310-518-6387 TDD/TTY

http://www.lapdonline.org/harbor_community_police_station

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