No Respect for Small Town Cops

Motel guests get harassed by the K-9 cop, who didn't locate any narcotics on the couple.

Dickinson, North Dakota—Small town cops always get a bad rap, and rightfully so. Unlike their urban counterparts, small town cops receive far less training. And because small towns tend to have low crime rates, police tend to spend an inordinate amount of time enforcing traffic laws and responding to small disturbances, like people setting off illegal fireworks. Sometimes small town police seem averse to police work all together.

Last month a man was stabbed on the property. The police wanted to view our security footage, but without speaking with the owner, I told them they needed a warrant. The owner later gave them permission to view the footage, but no one had a password for the system, not even the bossman. So the detectives returned with the city’s IT guy, who couldn’t default his way into the system. Next they returned with a warrant to seize the computer, which they’ve now had for over a month.

While the detectives were busy trying to access the footage, the assailant was hunkered down in Room 123, even though I had kicked him out. Initially I refrained from snitching, but when the cops began harassing us about the footage, we suggested they speak with the assailant rather than worry about the footage, which may or may not have any evidentiary value. They attack occurred late at night, between subjects who didn’t know each other. Because the motel is poorly lit, any footage captured in the dark is unlikely to be of much use.

Thanks, they said, as they continued to worry about the footage.

When they returned a third time, I had words for Det. Terry Oestrich, a Westpoint grad and incompetent schlep. The whole situation had become rather annoying, having to deal with these fools. Rather than make contact with the suspect, Oestrich stormed in, warrant in hand. We’re taking your computer tower, he smirked.

Only later did he did make it to Room 123—six days after the assault—but the suspect had by then absconded. Ya think Det. Oestrich asked for the man’s registration information, which would’ve included a driver’s license number?

Nope.

I don’t think Det. Oestrich has had any luck hacking into the computer he seized from us, because a man I later suspected of being an Oestrich-lackey, and who registered here last Monday, tried tricking us into giving him the password.

The guest, who registered under the name Peter Griffin, claimed no one was in the office when he arrived. He allegedly slapped a $50-bill on the counter, then sat on the couch. While on the couch, the Burger King sign across the highway made him hungry, so he left, leaving his $50 on the counter.

When he returned, he insisted that we let him view the footage, so he could identify the guest who snatched his money. He prodded me for access to the footage the following morning. Both of us gave the same answer we gave Det. Oestrich more than a month ago: We do not know the password.

I goofed, however, by incorrectly telling him the owner, who wasn’t reachable, had the password. I lied because we don’t want guests to know our security cameras are out of order.

See, the thing is, I’m going to be away for 10 days, Peter Griffin pleaded. I’d really like to review the footage as soon as I can.

I wanted to tell him no one gives a fuck about his $50, to hurry up and check out of his room, which he was 30 minutes late to do. When he kept badgering me about the password, I snapped, telling him There is absolutely nothing I can do for you, dude. I think you just have to eat the loss. 

Peter Griffin, it turned out, is an undercover pig.

Later that day, I saw Peter Griffin chatting with D., our housekeeper. Figuring Peter Griffin was giving D. a hard time about the $50 I asked D. about their conversation the next morning. What D. told me, and which was later confirmed by my general manager, was that Peter Griffin is actually an undercover officer with Dickinson police. But the real shocker was that D. is a paid snitch for the Department, gathering intelligence on guests and looking out for wanted people. So now on top of all the other info I give guests, I now have to warn them about the snitch-bitch housekeeper.

I know cops do good work by keeping the streets safe, keeping the peace and all, but paying a motel housekeeper to be their bitch and spy on guests crosses some sort of privacy line. People come here to do things they can’t or won’t otherwise do at home. So long as they’re not hurting anyone or causing a disturbance it is their business alone.

These police aren’t here to prevent violence. They’re not here to protect women from their abusive drunk boyfriends or rescue the children left alone in their rooms while their parents are at the bar. They’re not here to take down predators or bust up organized crime. They’re here to bust local drug users and hookers, easy targets of the law enforcement effort, arrests that involve very little policing and which do little to better the community.

But Dickinson police don’t seem that interested in police work. Why else devote so many resources to viewing footage of crime committed by a guy they let slip right under their noses?

Meanwhile, our security cameras are still down.

2 Comments

  1. Bikertrash says:

    Hah!  Good story – I enjoyed it.  Typical Podunk Cop responses.Keep up the stories from this place, I like ’em almost as much as your Carny series.

  2. LINDA says:

    Am reading a book you might enjoy, “The Restless Sleep: Inside NY’s Cold Case Squad” by Stacy Horn. Slow start but now I’m into it. “Confidential informants” are mentioned often. Pretty mixed review of NYC cops but how these guys solve murders years later is fascinating. 

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