The Opposite of Refuge

On February 20, 2013, I was asked to turn myself in to Det. Jake Habib at the 13th Precinct. My crime? I apparently had “stolen” Gucci bags and shoes from my psycho roommate who had blatantly spent my rent money on these items (this accusation was a revenge move on her part for my having her arrested for assault, plus getting an Order Of Protection against her on the 13th). Oddly, I had actually noticed her packing the very items she said I stole when she had come with two police officers the previous Friday to collect her things.

At 4:30 pm I went to the station with my good friend, Ronan Cox, for support. While I whined and protested, Ro spoke sensibly with the detective, assuring him that this was a mistake and a juvenile attempt to get even on Cheng’s part. Then Ro took my shoulder bag and left me alone, scared to death.

At first, Jake was all business. He locked me up while he did the infinite paperwork. Then he booked me: took my fingerprints, did a DNA swab, and took mug shots. It was all very Law & Order — very surreal — as if I were in a play.

Then he got word from Central Booking that he and his partner were to bring me over to 100 Centre Street. He ran me through the drill: there would be no mercy there. The women officers would treat me the worst. I was not to cry. I was to answer “no” respectfully to all questions. I would spend several hours — maybe all night — in a lockup with some pretty tough women.

He handcuffed me behind my back (that hurt!) and put me in the back seat of a squad car. When I pointed out that I had been in the station for several hours and that my blood sugar was crashing, he ran back to the detectives’ room and got me a candy bar.

From then on, he was very sweet. We drove downtown and hung around for a while. Apparently Central Booking was already full and didn’t want any part of me. Instead, we took a tour of Chinatown and Little Italy so I could enjoy the holiday lights; and then drove back on the FDR to the station, while I admired the lights on the bridges and the East River. It was a very beautiful drive, and did me a world of good, after being locked up like an animal.

When we returned, Jake gave me my faux-fur coat so I could make a “bed” on the hard bench of the cell. (Gloves and scarves were forbidden, in case I tried to do myself in with them). I then lay there peacefully, listening to the voices around me. I must have dozed, because Det. Habib was shaking my arm to wake me up.

He had contacted the DA’s office and spoken with Justin Tatham (or his paralegal, Colin Kindley). They told him that I was to be released on a DAT, meaning I would come in for a hearing on April 9 (it’s quite certain that the charges against me will be dropped).

They also emphasized that I had broken no law when I changed the locks on my door, as they had urged me to do so. (Had they not given me permission, it would have been another — more severe — charge against me).

When Det. Habib walked me to the front door at 11:00 pm, I gave him a “virtual” hug (the real thing not being permitted). He then rummaged through his pockets and came up with $6.00 and change (pretty much all he had). This provided me with a cab ride home (it came to exactly $6.00 — the  change had to pass for a tip).

As it was intensely cold outside, I was very grateful for this last kindness.

The next day I wrote a note to the C.O. of the 13th, extolling the “CPR” (Courtesy/Professionalism/Respect) skills of Detectives Habib, Medina and Ankele, all of whom had helped me through this awful month. I figured that the police rarely hear any good news (although if they look cross-eyed at anyone, they are liable to be instantly sued).

Just a little “mental judo” to keep them off-balance . . .

Besides, when was the last time a perp sent the management a thank-you note for the hospitality???

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