Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Haight Ashbury SFPD Park Station Officers Tag Taggers - Hurray!


I will admit that I have been rather annoyed with some members of the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD).

Not with all of them, mind you.

Just those individual officers who go above and beyond the call when it comes to cruelty, harassment, and/or brutality...

Especially officers like you, Officer Gabriel Gallaread... now, apparently, wreaking havoc out of the Mission Station.

Hallelujah! Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish!

I do offer our Beloved Mission District my deepest sympathy and encourage those who live there to avoid this particular officer - especially if you are out alone at night.

I Saw What You Did, Gabriel, And I Know What You Are... You are Nothing... But a Thug... With a gun and a badge.

But, I digress...

The Great News:

Yesterday afternoon, as I walked my loyal companion around The Haight, I observed one Park Station-based SFPD officer on a SFPD bike going to speak with a business-owner.

The officer has short, blond hair. I do not know his name, but he's been in the neighborhood for a while. And, from what I've observed in the past, he does a commendable job. (I haven't seen him beat anyone to a bloody mess who was already in handcuffs and not resisting.)

On my return, on the other side of the street, I noticed the officer's bike parked against a shop. There was also an empty black-and-white parked at the curb a short distance away from the bike. I was curious where the officers had gone. I glanced into a few shops, to no avail.

Then, I looked across Haight Street...

And, there they all were.

The young, blond officer and two female officers - a blonde and a brunette (I gather that they were in the squad car) - were talking to three young men.

Well, actually, they looked like three boys, young teenagers - all in dark clothing and one had a new-skool skateboard.

My dear dog wanted to go to the Park, but I've learned the importance of being observant and, although I didn't believe any of these officers would do anything wrong, someone needs to be paying attention to these types of interactions - just in case.

What I then observed absolutely warmed the shreds of what used to be my heart:

One of the female officers picked up three yellow aerosol canisters... the kind used by artistically-gifted mural artists and turd-ball taggers, alike.

The officers were taking turns talking to the three boys, asking them questions and explaining what will happen to them each time that they are caught tagging public and/or private property... up to and including being ordered to do a long-stint of community service (hopefully removing graffiti) and - if I heard correctly - not being allowed to get their driver's licenses for a while (yes, they were that young).

Individually, the two women each looked at me, briefly, while they spoke to the boys.

I made the effort to look harmless and smile.

I didn't want to interrupt something I'd never seen happen before and might never see again.

You see, it's often a rare thing to catch the little scrawling, tagging rug-rats in action.

The ones I often see come out at night - after leaving mommy and daddy at home, blankly staring at the tv... "Have fun, dear. Don't be home too late!" - go out with a buddy or two to deface the world and create eyesores galore.

The daylight ones often carry paint-pens and glance around before scrawling something on homes, businesses, buses, gates, trash cans, windows, mailboxes, doors, etc. (you get the picture). The simple act of looking around = they know that they shouldn't be doing it.

The night-scrawlers can be observed meandering back and forth across the streets - no particular destination in mind - seeking targets that call out to them.

Usually, one or two of them plays "look-out", while the other does his asinine excuse for "art".

The three junior juvee-wannabees I now observed had been flat out busted in flagrante... with the tools of their tagging trade on their persons and - likely - with paint on their clothes/hands.


When the young, blond officer glanced across the street at me with a curious look - he probably knows I live in the 'hood by now - I simply gave him a subtle smile and a thumbs-up... "You guys rock!", I said under my breath.

Seeing that, he smiled back at me.

I think he was a bit surprised.

He needn't be. I abhor taggers.

The City will cite and heavily-fine property owners if their property is tagged by the little losers and the scrawl isn't quickly removed.

I happen to love and respect my landlord. He's an angel. He happens to live elsewhere. So, when our building gets tagged, I'm the person who paints over it.

For a while, I was keeping a can of paint and a paint-brush just inside our front door - it was that bad.

But, despite the looming threat of losing police officers due to budget cuts, I've noticed a consistent and visible presence of officers in our neighborhood... and it makes a Big Difference.

Not just with the taggers, either.

There also seems to have been fewer fights breaking out in the street.

Yeah, when the bars close, there's usually at least one drunken fool shooting off his mouth at someone else.

Thankfully, of late, it seems to stop there... Just words... Just yelling... Or, maybe even a little shoving... But, it tends to stop there.

At least, there hasn't been the kind of violent assaults that - for a while - ended with people bleeding and ambulances being called.

"To Serve And Protect."

I may not say it enough...

Heck, I don't think I've ever said it...

But, Park Station, You guys (and women) Rock.

Thank you.

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