I don't call the police often

After all, I don’t want to be one of those who will call the police over hearing some yelling or a bunch of kids sneaking out at 1 AM. But my wife and I had to call them today, and I’m a bag of mixed feelings on it. My wife told me upon returning to the house from picking up the kids at school, a strange young man (maybe 21?), was hanging out around the parking lot. He noticed she was getting out of her car with the kids and went for his jacket pocket, then realized she was looking at him and he instantly places a small item he pulled from his jacket and puts it in his back pocket. Being the mama bear that she is, she hurried the kids to the house and kept her car key between her fingers at all times, stared him down as she walked to the house and locked the door behind her. He seemed to back off, but still hung around. After which, he crossed the street, and started pacing about 20 feet back and forth, hands fidgeting, and, every so often, shaking his head to himself. I watched him for about 5 minutes and he paced, fidgeted, and continually shook his head in an endless repeat all the while. I decided to just let it go, thinking, maybe he was just that way and let it go. I checked again 10 minutes later to see if he was still there and didn’t see him, so I thought to go check the car in the apartment parking lot, cause I’m paranoid like that thinking, if he had ill will, his aim might have been for the car. I opened the door and got about 3 steps out when I noticed he was literally 10 feet from our front door (our apartment faces the street). I didn’t draw attention to myself and proceeded to the car, then decided it was fine and walked back to the house. I made sure to get a good look at him before returning back to the house and locking the door behind me. He was still very fidgety, not able to stay still and still pacing from time to time. I kept an eye on him due to the proximity he was to our apartment, he stood in front of our front window for awhile and then proceeded to sit within 7 feet of our doorstep. He pulled the object from his back pocket, and I notice it’s a good size pocket knife. He stares down at it and starts fidgeting with it. At which point, I decided to call the police. I walk towards my phone to find that my wife has already dialed them and is describing the man to them.

The cops eventually showed up about 10 minutes later, handcuffed him, asked questions, searched him (more than likely due to the knife), and then let him go. A ride shows up during the middle of all of this, the cops leave, and the occupants curse the cops as they leave, and decide to have a smoke before taking off.

Now, I’ve got a wife and kids, so I feel like I’ve got added paranoia for the sake of their safety, and I don’t regret our decision, but I still feel odd. I’ve never seen this guy before in the 3 years I’ve lived here and we know most of the folks who live here. Not even the people who showed up were familiar to me. But now I’ve got this fear that this guy is going to return and retaliate for being questioned by the police. Am I just overreacting?

Nope, not even slightly. I would have been on the phone to the police even before that I think - and the only other time I have called the police was when we were burgled so I don’t call the police often either.

As you said, you have a wife and kids. You have to prioritise their and your safety first, well above any minor discomfort the “innocent” guy may have felt.


First, neither your wife or you over-reacted. This was very strange behavior. The cops should have talked to you about it and taken your observations and suspicions into account. They failed. You did not.

They also failed regarding letting the guy go. There is no good reason for this guy to have been behaving this way, especially how he reacted after seeing the way the two of you were reacting. They also failed by not informing you of what was going on, if (and a mighty big if, IMO) they even knew themselves.

As far as fear of retaliation, you bet your sweet patootie you have reason to fear. I’ve seen enough cases where retaliation happened when there was absolutely no connection between the “wrong” and the ones targeted afterwards. If he has reason (and the police probably dropped the dime on you, they’re good at that) to believe you were the ones to call the police, retaliation has a decent probability. It doesn’t sound like he has a firm grip on sanity anyway.

You have every reason to be cautious going forward. I can’t say how long a period, but I do know that just when it seems there is no reason to be concerned, things can suddenly happen. Vigilance on you and your wife’s part is not displaced. I would suggest discussing some strategies with your wife to keep an eye out and noting any suspicious activities. Write down anything that happens that seems odd, even if you are doubting their relevance.

One key piece of advice: Don’t rush. It doesn’t matter how late you are running or what emergency-of-the-moment is happening. Take a deep breath before walking out the door, before getting out of the car, etc. The worst things can happen when you are distracted or preoccupied with other things.

You have a wife and kids. You are a dad. Dads do whatever it takes to keep their families safe and healthy. If anyone hassles you over it, use your best demon-from-the-depths-of-hell or your best I’m-a-linebacker-who-eats-steel-doors-for-breakfast voice to dissuade them from following that line of irrational thinking (half of the people in my building are afraid of me for that voice).

I know that a bunch of us here are a considerable distance from you, but I think you would have a good-sized platoon of weapons-grade-outrage at your beck and call if you need it.


Um, as an aside, would you mind if I used this incident in a fiction project?


I don’t think you overreacted. I agree with Clockwork in the don’t rush out of your door any time soon. In addition, I would give the police department a call and see if they have any information for you. They may not, if a police report wasn’t filed, but it doesn’t hurt to try to get more information. From the interactions I’ve been having with the police lately concerning my next door neighbours, I’ve found that they’re perfectly happy to tell you what’s going on if you ask, but if you don’t ask, they won’t bother.

Devil’s advocate.

It could be he was somewhere he wasn’t comfortable waiting for a ride after being kicked out of someone’s apartment because they had to go to work. Hung over, pissed off, forgot his phone, fiddling with the only thing in his pocket. Mumbling to himself about how his friends are dicks because they left him there drunk and still haven’t shown up to get him out.

In any case, keeping an eye out is never a bad idea anyway.I’ve seen people get hit by bikes going by that if they had looked just a hair outside of their tunnel vision they would have seen them. I’ve seen video of attacks where the person was standing in plain sight, and the victim just walked right by without even looking.

Keeping his ride waiting while he smoked a cigarette doesn’t indicate a whole lot of worry about when his friends were going to show up.

Then again, he could just be an idiot and an ass.

That sounds like a perfectly reasonable reaction on the parts of you and your wife.

There’s been a certain amount of criminal activity going on here (especially mail theft and package theft), and our “neighborhood watch” FB group is full of all sorts of nosiness and busybodies, who will call 911 on a strange car loitering on a street corner.

Someone messing around that closely to your front door, playing with a pocket knife, deserves to have the police called on them. There are more appropriate places to wait for a ride.

My favorite one on ours was “Two youths with a rifle walking down the road”. My comment was, were they acting suspicious, were they shooting anyone, who cares if two kids have a gun, you are in rural Indiana during squirrel season.

edit, where /= were.

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Was the person reporting that a member of People Eating Tasty Animals?


Posted without comment, except I had to comment to get it to post.


I don’t call the police often… usually it’s the dimwit I’m chasing with a large, blunt object calling.

I’ve called the police once on suspicious behavior. We had an empty house across the street. It was not uncommon for neighbors to use it as overflow parking for whatever their reason. It was empty for the 10 years we’ve lived here. One day I noticed a man sitting in his car across the street. He was sitting slouched down, staring at the end of the street. He stayed about an hour and then drove off. I thought it was weird but we’re in Florida. Until he did it again. It was always the same time (around 3pm) when kids were getting off the bus. On the 3rd time, I saw him there, slouched in the seat staring at the end of the road where kids are getting off a bus and playing in the street. I called. The officers showed up, talked to him, sent him on his way and then came to talk to me. It seems as though he owned a home at the end of the block he was looking at and was trying to catch his renters doing something to evict them. I felt better knowing he wasn’t up to anything illegal… just creepy.

Either way, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Our schools got locked down for this one day last year. Guy was walking in a long coat, carrying something that looked like a rifle, on the sidewalk across the street from the school.

He was carrying a fscking umbrella. They couldn’t tell the difference between a rifle and an umbrella.

That happened at Ball State, in the Fall before all the umbrellas were eaten. Upperclassmen don’t even bother with them, the winds howl.

(I couldn’t find a better place to put this)

“We have used a lot of resources, but we had to do it for the safety of
the people. We didn’t want to go in because he was supposedly by
himself, he wasn’t a danger to anyone else.”

So instead you terrorize an entire neighborhood for 14 hours. News flash: most people are smart enough to know that if you have been knocking on the door for an hour and nobody answers, they’re not home.

Oh, and among those resources you have at your disposal? Tear gas. Flash-bangs. Parabolic microphone to determine if he’s, you know, breathing.

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That’s ok, I’m sure next time they’ll kick the door down and drop a flash bang in a crib, at the wrong address.

Or they were saving the ammo budget to shoot some more dogs.

I like and respect 99% of the police I personally know, they are about 80% assholes, but good people. I have to think it’s the policy level that’s FUBAR. They show up with body armor and blow the shit out of innocent people, but hide surrounding an empty building. Seems the statistic that says the best way to survive an ATF raid is to have a gun in your hand might be spreading.

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