Pride and Prejudice

Almost thirty years ago Stanley was thirty pounds lighter and better able to get away with doing things than he can now. This included squeezing through a turnstile at the top of a set of stairs on an elevated transit train platform in the Chicago Loop without paying the fare. Mind you, in 1982, it cost two quarters to make the turnstile roll. Being in his very early twenties, Stanley figured that it was no harm to cheat a little if he could.

He got away with it more often than he could count except for that one time when he was accompanied by a co-worker from the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court’s office. It also helps to mention that his co-worker friend Otis had a permanent tan which was one social strike against him to no fault of his own.

The moment that the two of them made it to the El platform, a little burly fellow about 5 feet 6 inches tall weighing 180 lbs came rushing out of nowhere and tackled Otis. At first, Stanley thought it was a racist thug who had too much to drink. However, within a minute, the little guy was putting handcuffs on Otis while another plainclothes officer came forward to assist dragging the poor fellow back down the stairs to a waiting squad car.

Stanley followed along trying to ask why his friend was being arrested but was told to shut up and mind his own business. Actually, there was a helping verb that went along with the response as well as a closing option of “or else”. Stanley, being young and adventurish, responded with “or else what?” which did not curry favor with the policemen. They threw Otis into the backseat and Stanley positioned himself to lean toward the window and ask him for his mother’s phone number so he could call her to bail him out. He was warned to leave or he would join Otis in the backseat. Still showing a touch of dare, Stanley against asked for the number.

At that point, the peace officers did not hesitate to cuff Stanley and tossed him as well into the back seat. The young men were never read their Miranda rights. When they got to the station, Stanley asked the other officer why the short cop was acting so rough. He told him that he was a hothead and to just be cool.

After spending the night at the 14th and State lockup against his will, the next morning Stanley appeared before a judge who recognized him as an employee of the County court system and threw out the case.

The officers were never reprimanded and probably are now retired with pension. Stanley no longer takes the El but uses his car to drive wherever he needs to go. He also has a firm policy of paying admission to wherever he enters or he does not bother to go there. His kids know this story because he doesn’t ever want to have to go to bail them out of a lockup.

Thirty years later the cops are still defending their methods of cracking down on potential violence and wrongdoing while the City of Chicago tries once again to find a Police Commissioner willing to work for a maximum of $300,000 a year and feel loved by his troops.

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