Skip to comments.Cops play 'cat and mouse' with criminals
Posted on 12/24/2003 7:54:15 PM PST by BenLurkin
Some parents raise their children praying they won't find their way into a particular lifestyle. Some simply know it's only a matter of time. Others can't even begin to imagine. Once a week the Los Angeles County sheriff's Palmdale station's Partners Against Crime patrol take to the streets; they know who they are looking for, and they know where to find them. In many cases they have seen them before. And odds are, unless they go to prison for life, they will see them again.
"It's a career," said Richard Evans, 28, who was arrested Monday on a parole violation, of his life as a gang member that began when he was 16.
Beginning with a briefing at the Palmdale Sheriff's Station, a handful of deputies, Detective Bob Farkas and one patrol officer decided which of the "thousands" of ex-cons suspected of violating their parole they would visit that day.
The crew converges on a Pearblossom residence and finds no one home. The condition of the home is deplorable and entry is unhindered, the door and some windows are missing. Dogs watch as the deputies enter, conduct a quick search and then decide to move on.
But one dog decides he doesn't want the deputies to leave and begins barking and growling, blocking the exit. Farkas fires off a round of pepper balls, the deputy is free, the dog irritated but unharmed and the team moves on.
Next stop, Courson Park just behind the sheriff's station in Palmdale. All at once the deputies surround a group gathered at the park, some pulling their patrol cars over the curb and onto the lawn.
A dozen or so individuals are sitting at picnic tables warding off the winter chill with a couple bottles of hard liquor, their eyes bloodshot, their breath pungent.
On the ground near the unsuspecting crowd, the deputies find the drug PCP and some rock cocaine, which Farkas said was most certainly dropped when the deputies pulled up.
Although most of them, they complain, have been passing a casual morning playing cards and chatting, one man, around 40, is so intoxicated he rants and raves, telling deputies that rather than sign the ticket and be fined for being drunk in public, he would rather go to jail.
His companions and the deputies try to convince him otherwise, but eventually he earns himself a seat in the back of a patrol car where he is still not happy. His girlfriend is not thrilled either because she wants the man deputies described as an "abusive drunk" free.
"I've got bills to pay," she says.
And there are more. In all, the team delivers five men to the Lancaster Sheriff's Station jail to be booked. Four others for parole violations.
During the afternoon-long sweep, a razor-sharp Samurai sword is confiscated, along with an unseemly amount of cash from a bunch of men with nothing better to do but sit in the park and drink all day. The alcohol is dumped out and the bottles are thrown away by deputies as they scan the area.
Farkas called it a game of "cat and mouse." They call it "fun."
"If we aren't messing with the bad guys, we're messing with each other," Farkas says.
Those targeted Monday clearly know the drill. As deputies approach them, they get out their identifications.
Deputies expect at least one to give them a chase sometime during the day, but no one does.
One by one, the men are searched.
With 14 years in law enforcement, Farkas has worked with gang members in the Sheriff's Department and before then with the Los Angeles Police Department. He has been with the PAC team for six years.
He isn't pushy, condescending or cruel. There is no bitterness in the man once shot in the chest, his life saved because he was wearing a bulletproof vest. He knows how to talk to the suspects, is versed in the lingo, is firm but not harsh. He knows that every bit of information he can get from a suspect could be a tip to something bigger later on.
Cuffed in the back of his patrol car is Richard Evans, who is being brought in because he was there with the drugs and weapons - a violation of his parole.
Evans' breath is heavy with alcohol, but he is anything but remiss in trying to convince Farkas that he has done nothing wrong.
He wonders if it snows much in the Antelope Valley. He says he has only been here for a while from Los Angeles where he ran with a well-known street gang.
Evans is surprised to hear Farkas tell him there are others from his gang hanging around the Valley and he remarks on the differences between L.A. and Palmdale.
"It's crazy out there, you have to drive around with a gun," Evans says of L.A.
If these others from the gang he runs with are in the Valley, he wonders aloud, where are they and where do they hang out?
It's different here, he says. "There are no hoods."
Since age 17, Evans says he has only been out of prison for about 18 months.
His two felony convictions are for armed robberies and on the three strike system, one more such offense could mean life without patrol.
Farkas asks him how many crimes he has committed that he hasn't gotten caught for. But Evans isn't about to go there.
He says his first baby is on the way. Due in the spring, he thinks. He takes a moment to come up with his "girl's" last name.
Evans doesn't know what the PAC team is, per se. But he notes its thoroughness.
"You guys come kind of thick, man, all the time you seem to get whoever you want," he says.
More than once Evans throws out the name of his parole officer, and Farkas promises to put in a good word for him because he is cooperative.
Cooperative, that is, as he stands in the chilly park, lifting his shirt to display his gang tattoos so Farkas can snap digital photos of them. Cooperative because he sits patiently in the back of the patrol car while the scene around him is rowdy and loud.
En route to Lancaster station for booking, Evans says he would like to have his tattoos removed; Farkas tells him if he is serious he can give him a name of someone who will "hook him up."
At the station the men and a near-equal number of law enforcement personnel crowd into the small booking room where they are searched again, photographed, fingerprinted and allowed to make their phone calls.
The intoxicated man is now banging on the window telling one deputy he will "see him on the street." Out of view of the man in custody, the deputy chuckles. He doesn't take it as a threat, but knows it is, on another level, probably the truth.
These men have been arrested before and chances are, they will be arrested again.
In all, Horace Ross, 23, was arrested for possession of a controlled substance for sales and parole violation; Eric Porter, 35, Todd Gilliam, 34, and Raymond Carreno, 42, all were arrested for parole violations.
Two others, whose names were not available, were cited for possession of marijuana.
That was in the daylight hours. In all, 10 probation/parole searches were conducted on Monday.
When his work is done at Lancaster station, Farkas heads back to Palmdale. On the way he sees fellow deputies have pulled over a car and stops to see if there is anything he can do to help.
Because three of the car's occupants are parolees, again, search and seizure is permissible. By the time Farkas has arrived, a search of the car has turned up more than an ounce of marijuana, clearly packaged for sale.
Again, Farkas knows the suspects. Here he takes some more photos of tattoos on the suspects, all in their 20s.
As one suspect is being photographed, he says he doesn't know what the big deal is because the tattoos are all old. He got them when he was "young."
"Their concept of young is different than ours. They don't expect to live past their 30s," Farkas says as he drives away from the scene, leaving it in the hands of his counterparts as he heads back to the station where he will meet up with the rest of the team to plan their next surprise visit.
Saturation patrols are conducted about once a week in Palmdale and neighboring communities and each time arrests are made, either planned or at random.
I'd like to see each of these sweeps end with PERMANENT incarceration.
Silly aren't I?
And where is my Christmas spirit?
Nothing obscure about it...breaking the law is breaking the law.
Libertarian logic at work, LOL!
Hey, if people didn't elect to break the law there would be fewer criminals.
No thanks but I do enjoy the pretzel logic...it's funny as all get out.
Try getting yourself a dog...it might be impressed with your commands.
LOL! See, you even find yourself funny.
Naw, I have no interest in the libertarian party whatsoever...but thanks for the offer.
The problem with the Drug War is that you would need an upsupportable number of prisons. And, consequently, as this article points out, police are swimming in a sea of criminals. They don't have the time to sort out the ones that will burglarize your house from the drug runners. Sometimes they overlap, sometimes they don't. Until we end the Drug War, the current situation, where it is impossible for police to bring property crime solution rates up out of the toilet, will continue.
We need as many prisons as it takes to keep habitual criminals inside until they are too old for the game. But with the Drug War, we already imprison more people than just about anyplace else, and we have twice as many LEOs as Communist Police State Red China.
And I can assure you I will give your posts the consideration and response they so richly deserve.