Crime Journalism Housekeeping Notes and reporters and police bumping heads

1) On this Albanian Organized, kind of organized, ridiculously corporate like big narco types crime story, the last installment where I went to Albania, covered federal trials here in NY met with everybody and went everywhere I could, the one I cried about and the one that wrecked me a bit because how much can you write on a topic and how do you put a world of facts into order, maybe there is no order but when do you give it up — but  I did it, proud of the article, not the usual feeling of just grateful it didn’t go really bad and blow up — it’s good and everybody behind it feels it’s good and all you prosecutors, defense lawyers, agents, people who talked to me from in the life, who gave me info to help, who took me into places and opened up, the guys and women I can’t name who treated me decently, yeah it will be out, published soon, — I know, maybe the mob will disappear or something bigger will happen and you all moved on, I know, it’s just the nature of this game, uh this business, uh this hobby of mine sometimes — so soon and it’s all out and sincere so at least en shallah that will be good.

2) That last blog post on slang (commentary like I’m Carrie Bradshaw on the police beat) I’m banking on two guys laughing appreciatively on it — Steve Hughes in Brazil and the smart funny JC who kept everyone in check and made being an intimidator like having a cool ass uncle in your corner — P from last period in jumpsuit land, but I don’t even know how to get him to a blog).

3) I just have to say this cop reporter relations thing here — maybe 9 months ago I applied for this NYPD Press pass, it used to be useful but post 9/11 it’s pretty worthless really, what police lines are they really going to let you cross with the card and what special courtesies are they really going to roll out.  I sent this whole long application in, my bio, clips,  sayingI’m not a daily reporter looking to do spot news but I thought it would be useful, especially for ID if say  cops stop me for —  what are you doing in school street projects, why are you in this deli, to rob it?  we have a report of you with a gun in the subway we have to converge on you  — true true true and it always comes up if I’m a snitch, undercover, informant, cop, really a reporter when I’m interviewing so a card would maybe help a little.

This detective in the public information office almost takes my head off in an e-mail, no exceptions, we don’t care, you don’t meet the criteria, you fail, you’re not a crime reporter, we don’t cover rikers, go to hell, we hate you, (paraphrasing here).  What the hell — I write her back, look I’m not trying to get into a fight, I’m just wondering if there was any way blah blah respect respect. Basically go to hell response.  I say thanks for trying, whatever be nice, squash it.  No response.

What is this? That’s how little you value what a good journalist not trying to do gotchas and take cops down just to get a byline.  What is this courting of enemies, cultivating enemies. This is your job , on press outreach.  So we should disappear? Who is willing to come to the guy’s defense when you throw a cop in the psych ward for a week because he’s too out of line with commanders and getting to be a pain about quotas?  Who’s going to really try to show who you are when you jump in the river for a rescue, take bullets, get stabbed with a screwdriver in the head.  You have any idea how things went when an undercover cop tried to summons/arrest me for a turnstile jump, misunderstanding, on my way to court, he said remember this when you write all your ticket fixing attack articles, I said I don’t do that kind of thing, I’m not out for your blood (and I know a guy at the News who does those stories and he’s not out for blood either) and I went to his headquarters the next day to say thanks for helping me out, keeping it vague but saying he was decent and everybody was good.  You have any idea what happens when I see cops chasing a guy and I’m walking by what any of us would do in that situation.  Or hear them make a racist comment on a construction job and not go crazy and hate them all or how I would help  like hell when they’ve had to wrestle down an emotionally disturbed rodeo guy on an EMS call when I did that job. I’m not saying I’m Mcgruff or cop-like or that I could even stomach arresting a person or testifying against them or being a police officer, but come on I’ve been in the crime, cop, prison, courts, institutions, streets world since I was a teenager — you really want to treat somebody who actually knows your world, actually knows how you talk, feel, what you go through, know many sides and has put in the time, listens and wants to convey that for real to the public — you want to treat that person like, what, nothing, and just give credentials to guys who need to get two quotes on an accident?  Where’s the intelligence, the flexibility, the creativity, the reason, the willingness to cooperate to make things work.  You really want to live in fantasy land bad cop show where the reporters are all sick evil jackals trying to hunt you down for gain and all the cops are swaggering guys with community college degrees who are crude and boorish.  I talked to your guy last night at 3 am, two out of their mind British tourists drunk, sick, miniskirted laying on the curb, hey, sorry officer, I know this is run of the mill sat nite and you’re not a taxi service but there’s these girls.  He’s normal, thoughtful, okay, where are they, yeah I’ll call a car and go there — cool, a man, another man, work together, no stereotypes.  Same in Mott Haven on the street asking about crime at night on this chinese take out story and when I called the community relations cop, the desk — hey just a heads up, I wrote this article, just wanted to put it on your radar– thanks, of course, we’ll take a look, thank you I appreciate it and they are, not sure why, but they’re out there now in force in Mott Haven and the streets are safer and that restaurant is safe.

I’m not going to be a jerk, a p**ck really, and call out a name on this but come on, isn’t there enough crap and chaos and tension and politics in this city, can’t you give a little respect when you’re given respect.  You’re the rep for them, all those men and women — we’re not all scum, looking to go against you.  Give some of it a chance and we can be on the same side, both do good in our worlds for each other.  I called DCPI maybe 900 times in my life and I was born and raised here and I’ve played deck hockey with probably half of you all on the force when we were 15 so come on, see who we are sometimes and we can do the same — alright, I appreciate you listening, be careful in those cars at high speed flying through intersections and in those dark rooms and on those shitty streets in the winter when guys flip out on you and decide let’s end it and you’re the way to do it and your backs and feet are probably sore as hell when it’s not calamity. peace.

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