Occasional musings of a Generation X Sister of St. Joseph of Peace. Read along as I live into a life of love and service as a modern day Catholic Sister (aka "nun") and continue to discern my call to "act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with God."
Dear Rahm -- or the saga of my attempt to file a City of Chicago Police Report
This is going into the mail in the morning ....
January 3, 2013
Mayor Rahm Emanuel
City of Chicago
121 N LaSalle Street
Chicago City Hall 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60602
Dear Mayor Emanuel:
I am a new resident of the great City of Chicago. I moved here last fall to begin studies at
the Catholic Theological Union in Hyde Park. I have enjoyed the beautiful City
parks and welcoming spirit of the City and have generally been pleased with my move.
However, today I had my first direct interaction with City government, and
I was not impressed. While I am now a
Catholic Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, before I professed my vows I spent 11
years working in municipal administration for the City of Portland,
Oregon. I share this tidbit because I
believe it illustrates that I both understand the reality of overworked employees
and understand how the system works. I
believe my family and friends would say that I am the last person to offer an
undeserved anti-government “rant.” Yet I also firmly believe that my experience
today is troublesome. Hence, I am sharing
it with you and your administration.
This afternoon I was the victim of a pickpocket who stole my wallet and
telephone while I was enjoying a cup of coffee and cookie at the Bonjour Bakery
Café in Hyde Park. After cancelling my
credit cards (which had already been used by the thieves) and stopping my
cellular phone account, I called the police non-emergency number to report the
Thirty five minutes, 5 transfers and 2 lectures later, I was the proud
recipient of a police report number.
However, it took great persistence, perseverance, patience and a thick
skin to be able to file my report. I did
not feel respected or believed, nor did I feel that the government employees on
the other end of the phone had any interest in assisting me.
When I told the first individual who answered the non-emergency number
that I wanted to report that my wallet and telephone were stolen, I was put on
hold. A few minutes later, I found
myself speaking with another person. I
told this person the same thing, and was transferred to yet another
person. This third person asked me if I
knew who stole my wallet and phone. I
told this person that I did not personally know them, but that the staff at the
bakery had checked the surveillance tape and while the video did not catch them
in the act, it did show the two men who were standing behind me in the café and
most likely stole the wallet and telephone.
He said I needed to speak with a detective and transferred me
again. The next person who answered the
phone was very angry at me when I told my story about wanting to report a
stolen wallet and phone. “Why are you
calling 911!?,” he asked. I said that I
had called 311, about 15 minutes earlier, and that after several transfers I
had ended up with him. We went around and around
again about the video, and he decided that I did not need 911. He lectured me again for calling 911. I again indicated as politely as possible
that I understood this was not an emergency which is why I had called the non-emergency
number. I then asked him asked him to
transfer me to someone who would take my police report. He transferred me back to 311 where I was put
on hold for about 10 more minutes.
Finally I received a human being who seemed willing to take my police
report. However, she again asked me if I
had seen the person steal the wallet. I
explained that the wallet and phone had been in my coat pocket, and that I had
been sitting on my coat in the café and about 20 minutes later realized my
wallet was gone. I told her that I had
spoken with the staff at the café and they checked the video surveillance which
they said showed two men standing behind me who were acting “strangely.” When I
said that I believed they stole my wallet and phone, she asked derisively if I
saw them both put their hands in my
pocket, or if the video showed the two men put their hands in my pocket. When I indicated that as far as I knew the
camera was aimed at eye level and not my hip, she said that all she could do
was report the wallet as lost.
At this point I was frustrated, so I will admit that I got a little bit
snippy and said in exacerbation, “Well then it is interesting that my lost
debit card made it to Target within the next 45 minutes and tried to charge
more than $600 all by itself.” I had already called the bank who had told me
that several small charges had cleared but they had put on a fraud alert for
this large charge. This finally got the
attention of the clerk, and I was able to file a police report.
This experience has led me to wonder whether the crime statistics for
the City of Chicago are accurate. If
other law abiding citizens have experiences as challenging as mine, I suspect
that more than a few give up before they are ever able to navigate the system
and that the crime statistics are greatly underreported. I hope that you and
your staff are working to improve this crime reporting system and providing
customer service training to those who answer the non-emergency line.
Thank you for reading my letter and for all you and your staff do for
Chicago residents. I hope that my next
interaction with the City of Chicago is more positive.