Wrong Priorities…

A dear friend of mine, (whom I’ll call Lisa), conducted a background check on her live-in boyfriend.  She did this purely on a whim and was shocked to learn that he’d served time in state prison for burglary and larceny.  In light of this discovery, Lisa wasted no time terminating the relationship.  Regrettably, the boyfriend didn’t handle this rejection well.  He stalked her relentlessly, choosing inappropriate moments to emerge from the shadows.

Each day Lisa became increasingly more rattled.  She eventually sought help from the Pittsfield Police Department, hoping they’d warn the ex boyfriend to keep his distance.  Her irregular work schedule often meant leaving the house very early or arriving home late, always when the neighborhood was dark and deserted.  Her pleas fell on deaf ears.  Police personnel expressed no concern, displaying a flippant attitude toward the situation.  This was disconcerting to a woman living alone, holding down two jobs.  Lisa had been forsaken by the very individuals who had taken an oath to Protect and Serve.

Lurking in the shadows wasn’t enough for this creep so he escalated to random acts of vandalism.  At one point he accessed Lisa’s driveway in the wee hours, inflicting  $1,000 worth of paint and body damage to her vehicle.  Again, Pittsfield police were called.  Again, they did nothing.  Their justification being, “You can’t prove who did the damage.

Not long thereafter the situation reached a boiling point.  Lisa arrived home one sunday, only to discover that the front door to her apartment had been torn from the hinges.  Lying nearby was a shovel belonging to the landlord, last seen in the basement.  An intruder had obviously used it to pry the door from its jamb.  Anticipating the worst, Lisa took a deep breath and cautiously poked her head through the opening.  Amazingly, nothing inside the apartment was broken and no items appeared to be missing.  With a sigh of relief she entered and phoned Pittsfield police.

While waiting for their arrival Lisa conducted a room to room inspection.  On the bedroom floor, barely visible to the naked eye, she discerned boot prints leading directly to an antique bureau.  The middle drawer was ajar, not the way she’d left it.  Lisa reached in, fished around, and withdrew a particular pair of balled up socks.  While uncoiling the ball she knew what to expect.  Her suspicions were quickly validated.  An entire weekend’s tip money – a substantial amount of hard earned cash slated for a morning bank deposit – gone.  Lisa’s blood ran cold.  She’d been using this carefully chosen hiding spot for years and only one other individual knew of its existence.

As Lisa was being interviewed by police she pointed out the boot prints, making sure to convey that only her former live-in boyfriend was privy to the secret cache.  He had obviously robbed her, smashing the door when he discovered that his key no longer worked.  Surely this was sufficient evidence to make an arrest.  Lisa had faith that Pittsfield police would finally get this psycho off the streets and allow her to resume a normal life.

For added insurance Lisa asked that the shovel handle be fingerprinted. Her former boyfriend had a criminal record so his prints would be on file.  The request was denied.  Lisa was told that prints found on the shovel, or anywhere else for that matter, would prove inadmissible.  The boyfriend could simply claim to have left them at some point while living at the address.  With an air of insouciance Pittsfield police abandoned the scene, leaving poor Lisa to contend with no front door and the looming threat of a man whom she was now petrified.

A few days later I persuaded Lisa to contact Pittsfield Police and request that a detective come to her apartment.  I had grown increasingly frustrated at the department’s unwillingness to confront the only viable suspect in this matter.  For over an hour I spoke with the detective, providing a chronological reiteration of dates, times, locations, and specific details regarding the ex boyfriend.  Later that same evening he was picked up by police and brought in for questioning.  At some point during the interogation, for reasons never disclosed, my name and address were divulged.  Minutes later the ex boyfriend was cut loose, criminal charges pending.  Armed with my identity he strolled from the police station, hell-bent on revenge.

The following week I returned home from New York, having completed a laborious two-day work assignment.  I sorted through junk mail, hit “play” on the answering machine, and began the daunting task of unpacking.  And there he was…

Though the message had been left anonymously, the caller’s hollow voice was easy to identify.  The message was succinct, the context was clear.  In exchange for intervening in his personal affairs, Lisa’s ex boyfriend vowed to ruin my life forever.  As I replayed his words in my head I had no way of knowing that a scheme to take me down was already in motion.  Pittsfield police were going to arrest me and unwittingly perform the dirty work for him.

This feat was to be accomplished by exploiting salacious activity that was currently the talk of the town.  An unidentified man had been traipsing around Pittsfield, performing lewd acts in front of women. Lisa’s ex boyfriend solicited the help of three young female acquaintances who were to effectively play into this hype.  Over the span of several weeks each of the three girls would take their turn filing a bogus police report, attesting that they too had been accosted.  In addition, the trio was to surreptitiously leave a trail of breadcrumbs, information of zero credibility that bumbling detectives would eagerly follow to my door.

The plan worked like a charm.  Detectives were so obsessed with apprehending a suspect that they were willing to go anywhere at the bidding of apparent facts, unconcerned about rational probabilities.  I was arrested at my Richmond home on February 23, 2005 and charged with multiple counts of lewd and lascivious behavior.

Though members of the Pittsfield Police Department had made excellent pawns, the ruse had no hope of withstanding courtroom scrutiny.  The three girls never anticipated a subpoena and so their concocted stories crumbled during trial.  In fact, the first two inadvertantly conveyed such vacuous testimony that second assistant district attorney Joan M. McMenemy embarrassingly dropped charges to preclude girl number three from taking the witness stand.

Pittsfield police followed a peculiar code:  They compromised the safety and well-being of my friend, a law-biding citizen who works 50-plus hours per week.  Meanwhile, they aided and abetted a convicted felon who formerly robbed people for a living.  In the midst of this fiasco they caused irreparable damage to me.  With a police force like that, who needs enemies?

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