The fourth episode in the debut season of Seinfeld was called “The Robbery.” In that episode, Jerry goes off to perform on the road, leaving Elaine to tend to his New York apartment. This was in the pre-Giuliani days, so Jerry returns to find that his television, VCR, and other items have been stolen. (This is technically a burglary, not a robbery, but you can’t quibble about such things with these Hollywood types.) A police officer comes to Jerry’s apartment to take a report, after completing which the officer tells Jerry, “Well, Mr. Seinfeld, we’ll look into it and we’ll let you know if we if we find anything.”
“You ever find anything?” Jerry asks.
“No,” says the cop.
Soon, in Oakland, Calif., this scenario will not be played for comedy but rather for poignant tragedy. Not only will the police not find anything, they won’t even come out to the crime victim’s home or business to tell him they won’t.
Facing a budget shortfall, the city of Oakland is about to lay off 80 police officers. This is hardly a wallop they can shrug off in a city where the murder rate is more than three times the national average. So, in the event that last-minute negotiations fail to avert these layoffs, citizens in Oakland are being informed that if they should suffer any of the misfortunes on a list of 44 situations that once brought a police response, no officer will come to their door to take a report, much less try to do something about it. Reports about incidents on the list will have to be made online, police say.
Given that burglary and theft are on the list, one must wonder what options will be available to a man whose computer is stolen.
– Jack Dunphy is an officer in the Los Angeles Police Department. “Jack Dunphy” is a nom de cyber.