Saturday, October 30, 2010

Blood Simple: Perps

It’s hard to track someone who is not in the system, someone with no priors. If they haven’t been fingerprinted, there’s no way of making an ID at the crime scene. Once you’ve got a rap sheet, things are easier, even if the perp has no permanent place of residence and just hangs out. Chronic criminal behavior is viral, so if a detective is trying to nab someone for one crime, he can just wait for him to be apprehended for another. An I-card is produced, and as he is being arraigned for the second offense, the perp can be rearrested if he is not remanded. The subject in question had been picked up for trespassing in the 4-1, or forty-first precinct, the Fort Apache of cinema fame, which was once an urban form of the wild west, when New York, and particularly the South Bronx, was wide open back in the eighties. Now it’s still a tough neighborhood where teenagers in hoodies, sweat pants and heavy boots scurry between narrow doorways. The perp was being held on the trespassing charge at the Bronx Criminal Court house on 161st Street, but he was also being sought for assaulting his girlfriend. The court looks like the set of a television police procedural. There are clusters of court officers and an attractive Hispanic female judge, who in fact looks like an actress whose name you can’t quite remember. The public defenders arrive with thick legal files under their arms and four or five young ADAs, including an Orthodox Jew, are already processing varying cases, which all have docket numbers. Once the proceedings begin, the accused are led in, handcuffed, from a side entrance, like they’re coming on from the wings of an off-Broadway stage. A young woman is charged with assaulting her boyfriend, but she has also filed a complementary complaint against him. Orders of protection are the issue. The judge’s voice pipes up in a refrain that will be heard throughout the morning: “You understand that you will not contact him by cell phone, by email, by S-mail, or by Googling him, even if he indicates that he wants to contact you. You understand that you are being released subject to your understanding of this order of protection and that your discharge will be revoked if you violate this order of protection.” There is an appearance of studiousness amongst all the players that verges on goodwill, but there is a countervailing glazed-over look amongst the defendants, prosecutors and even family members who fill the pews. Everyone has seen it all before. It’s an ongoing drama that replays itself everyday like the old soaps. As four young men are brought before the judge, two burly court officers line up in back. Defendants are known to flee even in handcuffs.


  1. Sounds like there is some personal experience here.

  2. Yes, I was taken around town by this awesome guy who knew all the ropes.

  3. That seems so cool, was this awesome guy in law enforcement or a perp.


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