Unwanted Party at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

By Marc Dion

November 20, 2020 5 min read

It's 25 years ago, and I'm standing before the sergeant's desk in a city police station, reading the day's arrest reports. In those days, the officer wrote the report on a form, in his own handwriting.

A bar owner, I read, called the police because a man was sitting on the doorstep of a street-corner tavern, making it tough for patrons to come in or go out.

The report noted that the owner told the man he was going to call the police, and the man responded, "Go ahead."

The owner called the police, and an officer responded.

The report said the man refused to move on, and eventually, the officer said, "If you don't move on, I'll have to arrest you."

"Yeah?" the man said. "Go ahead. Arrest me."

The last sentence of the report contained only three words.

"So I did," the officer wrote.

I believe that civic goodness rests on the lower rungs of public service: the cop, the mail carrier, the town clerk, and others who toil in obscurity, down there where they make arrests, and plow snow, and sweep the streets.

That's why it is my hope that, if it comes to President Donald Trump being physically removed from the White House, it is done by the cops on the beat.

The news director at the radio station where I work tells me the Secret Service would do that job, but I'm still hoping that, if it has to be done, it's done by ordinary police officers whose car just happens to be in the area when the dispatcher gets on the radio.

"Unwanted party" calls are pretty frequent on the police scanner. They represent ex-boyfriends who won't leave the apartments of their ex-girlfriends; ex-wives screeching in the yards of ex-husbands; obnoxious bar patrons; and sometimes street people who are sitting or sleeping on someone's lawn.

"Unwanted party at 28 Washington St., second floor" the dispatcher says. "Party wants her ex-boyfriend removed from the apartment."

"I'm in the area," the officer says. "I'll make my way there."

And the officer makes his or her way there, sometimes with the siren and lights on, often not, and not at a great rate of speed.

I spent thousands of hours in newsrooms with a scanner grinding out the night's usually petty misery. All I learned was that you don't go to a fire until you hear the second call, because most fire calls aren't, in fact, fires; and if it's a shooting or stabbing, run for the door right away. It's little enough to have learned.

And I learned that unwanted party calls, like domestics and fender bender car wrecks, are frequent, and do not require the presence of a reporter.

"Unwanted party at 1600 Pennsylvania," the dispatcher says. "Ex-president refuses to leave a public housing apartment."

"This is car 7," comes the calm response. "I'm about 10 minutes away. Responding."

Then comes the knock on the door and the delusional resident who insists he is the victim of unseen forces. With any kind of luck, an older cop will answer the call. The older cops are good at calming the delusionals.

"I have every right to be here," President Trump says.

"I'm afraid you don't, sir," the officer says. "This is public housing, and you've been asked to leave."

"I'll take this all the way to the Supreme Court!" Trump screams.

Cops hear that a lot. The officer's facial expression does not change.

"You have that right, sir," he says. "In fact, I'll take you down to the station. We have all the Supreme Court forms right there."

My guess is it will end peacefully, and the officer, male or female, will finish the shift and go home, and when asked by their spouse, "Anything happen tonight?" will speak the response you learn on the job.

"No, it was quiet."

To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, "Devil's Elbow: Dancing in the Ashes of America," is a collection of his best columns about life and politics as seen from the lower levels of the pyramid. It is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and for Nook, Kindle and iBooks.

Photo credit: cocoparisienne at Pixabay

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