I had a situation happen to me this past Saturday that could have ended differently had either me or my husband chosen to take action on our own instead of calling the police. Rather than taking matters into our own hands, we chose to let the professionals handle the situation, which was far better than what could have happened.
Saturday morning, Andy and I drove to Cincinnati to pick up tables and chairs for Mid-Ohio IMB seminars. We left early in the morning in order to be home for THE GAME (well, it’s Buckeye Nation, so . . .). The last stop on the trip was to drop off the load at the business and head for home. As we pulled into the parking lot I noticed a familiar car in our parking area – not in a good way, either. Bear in mind that this was the weekend, and no businesses were open. No one else was around, and no cars should have been parked in our lot.
This same car had been seen in our lot at least a half a dozen times over the past three weeks. Two homeless people driving around in a car, find an out-of-the-way place to park (our office and parking lot is at the far end of a business office complex) and squat. Sounds pretty harmless, right? Two people living out of their car, minding their business; maybe – maybe not. Here are the known issues: I have caught the man walking behind our dumpster to relieve himself, they sit in the lot with their doors open, and they have approached others going to their car. The unknown issues could be 1) entering the unlocked building during the day and staying overnight inside the building, 2) they could have a deviant state of mind with a potential to do harm to others, 3) they could be using or selling drugs, 4) they could be involved in other deviant behaviors.
The local police department had been called at least twice before, once by me and once by the business upstairs in the building. In the latter, the police showed up and escorted them off of the premises. In my case, I waited an hour for the police to show, but before they did the homeless people sped off rather quickly. I called and cancelled the request with the police, not wanting to waste their time on a no longer necessary call.
So that brings us back to this past Saturday. The homeless people had wedged their car in between another car and the building, in order to be more discreet in their squatting. But it was the same car, same license plate number, so I called the police department again for their help.
HERE’S WHERE IT COULD HAVE GONE WRONG
After I told Andy what was going on, how we had called on this situation numerous times and that I was getting ready to call again, I began second guessing my situation. “I don’t want to be a burden on the police department. I’m sure a homeless person call is not the most important one of the day. Maybe I’m taking them away from something more important. Maybe we could just try and get them to leave.”
Andy and I are skilled in many facets of personal defense, but we also know when it’s necessary to let the professionals take care of a situation. There was NO WAY we were going to handle this situation on our own. There were too many variables that could have taken this to dangerous level rather quickly. We had nothing to prove, and the bottom line was to get them to leave without any additional problems. So, I called the police department and moved our tables and chairs into the building, locking it behind us before taking them downstairs into my office. It wasn’t more than fifteen minutes later that we saw the police cruiser driving down the complex to address the situation. I could have done back flips I was so happy (and relieved). We were ready to leave, and I had indicated on my non-emergency call that I didn’t need the police to contact me so we didn’t need to stick around for any paperwork. FURTHERMORE, as we left the business complex parking lot and turned the corner on our way home, we saw another police cruiser heading that way. Apparently, they did take this seriously, and didn’t mind checking something out that I may have thought was unimportant to them.
WHAT’S THE TAKE-AWAY HERE?
It’s important to realize when you are able to handle a situation and when it’s best left to the professionals. The police are trained for all types of situations, and an escalation could have resulted in a much worse outcome. Have your local police department’s non-emergency number plugged into your cell phone for situations like this.
To us it was just shooing a homeless couple away from a building, but to the police responding to the call, it may have been more. There could have been warrants out for their arrest, they could have had drugs in their car or any other issue deemed important by the police.
And just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Know the difference, get your ego in check, and call / ask for help when it’s necessary.
Stay Safe –