Sunday, April 25, 2010

Police Roll Call at Tobacco for Less

posted by richard gill

Just before 5pm on Thursday, April 22, a dozen or so Chicago police patrol cars and vans swooped in at the corner of Hyde Park Boulevard & 55th Street. This wasn’t a raid or a response to a crime in progress. It was for a totally routine activity—roll call for police officers of Beat 32, 21st Police District, prior to the start of their shift. What wasn’t routine was the location, outdoors on a busy street corner.

Why that particular corner? It was to show a strong police presence in front of a retail store called Tobacco for Less. The store has been there about a year, selling tobacco products and snack food. Suspicions have arisen that the store may be selling cigarettes to minors and selling illegal wares. The roll call was conducted there in order to send a message to the store and its customers that the police are paying attention. It was also to reassure local residents that the police are on the case.

Police roll calls in public places are occasionally conducted where gangs hang out or criminal activity is known or suspected.

The showing on April 22 was indeed impressive. The cars arrived with swirling blue lights. The officers, about 20 in number, gathered across the street and then strode, rather like a platoon, to where the roll call was to be held, in front of the tobacco store. They lined up along the sidewalk, and a sergeant took the roll. It was semi-formal, and there was some good-natured bantering among the officers and people (most of them curious) who gathered to watch, and there was applause at the end. Representatives from the 4th and 5th Ward Aldermanic offices voiced appreciation for the officers’ efforts. The whole thing took less than ten minutes. The police departed and went to work.

This was strategy at work and great community outreach. I haven’t been that close to that many guns since the Army.


John said...

One man's "great community outreach" is another man's "thuggish police intimidation."

David Farley said...

"I haven’t been that close to that many guns since the Army."

Richard, you need to visit Pennsylvania on the first day of deer season sometime.

Otto said...

"May be ... selling illegal wares"? What are these wares? I may need some. Is there some chance that they're only displaying illegal wares but then refusing to sell them? That would stink.

David Farley said...

Maybe he meant warez. I'll take a copy of Photoshop CS5, please.

What exactly has this store done, other than be a business people don't particularly want on that corner? I walk by that intersection a couple times a day, usually, and I haven't noticed an uptick in crime or loiterers.

fedup said...

Haven't seen this activity where its actually needed- in Woodlawn. WTF?

Richard Gill said...

"...visit Pennsylvania on the first day of deer season sometime."

Yeah, David, I saw The Deer Hunter. I've been in western Pennsylvania during deer season, and if they're not talking about the Steelers, they're talking about hunting. I was in Kentucky during one hunting season and washed deer blood off the hood of someone's jeep (after his dead deer was removed).

Anyway, when I remarked about being so close to a lot of guns, it didn't reflect any particular fondness for that proximity.

ladyjanewriter said...

That store is totally bong-tastical. I picked up some (non-wacky) tobaccy for my neighbor, and was floored at the hookaliciousness of it all. And I'm pretty sure they sell that "legal pot" there, I saw a poster for it.

If it's all this, just for water pipes? I find it kinda funny. Who knows, it may be a front for something else? They do have a nice selection of tobacco, though, for those who want the legal stuff.

It could also be a NIMBY thing. The shop is kind of an eyesore and looks a bit tacky (but not as tackalicious as the one on 53rd with the Plastic Native American).

Otto said...

And I'm pretty sure they sell that "legal pot" there, I saw a poster for it.

Aha. If they're actually selling products that contain JWH-018, I could see a motivation for crass police intimidation, as it's not captured by 21 U.S.C. § 813 or local law. I gotta check this place out.

ladyjanewriter said...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I saw a very prominently displayed poster for K-2 or a similar product.

For those who enjoy legal tobacco, I must say their selection is quite impressive. They even have snuff and chewing tobacco that's very hard to track down. It's not my thing at all, but they do actually provide a legit service in Hyde Park.

Otto said...

I made it over today at lunchtime. As far as head shops go, it's a pretty weak offering. The selection of pipes was thoughtless, and the tobacco choices were nothing out of the ordinary.

The dude squatting outside panhandling for a Swisher didn't help much, either. All in all, fairly typical Hyde Park shopkeeping.

Anonymous said...

What, no posts about Morsbach's deluded letter to the Herald last week?

chicago pop said...

@ Greg: not even worth the time nor energy. :)

WoodLawn Jack said...

I think you need to be more specific on which Morsbach letter. I assume it isn't the one in the May 5th edition where he complains about not having enough personal input into what the university does. So it must have been the one in the previous edition where he bemoaned the university not taking to heart his personal input.

You'd the U would have a check list by now . . .
1) Notify Jack Spicer of all plans
2) Make sure Hans agrees with construction and architectural details
3) Have 4 independent construction experts provide at least 4 alternatives to every planned project and subproject--for example if you are going to use Drs Hospital for a school get the building evaluated for its potential as an indoor driving range. Or if you had planned on using a lot next door for staging see if it might be more convenient to use a spot in Evanston for staging and getting the city to open LSD to truck traffic.
4) Assume all decisions we (the U) have made are wrong and go back to steps 1 and 2

I really was hoping for an Ikea or Best Buy at Drs Hospital.

David Farley said...

FYI - the warm weather seems to have attracted all sorts of loiterers to the stoop outside that store. The people who live in that building can't be pleased.

VOM said...

They were out there again tonight.