03 September 2009

I am not a criminal...

Well, our local police department apparently has no record of my criminal activities...

Kidding! I'm not a criminal and now I even have official police letters to prove it!

Being at the police station this morning was weird. It occurred to me as I was standing there waiting for the detective that I had never actually been inside of a police station until today.

It's an experience that I don't think I'd care to repeat.

The detective who ushers me through several hallways to an area full of tiny cubicles is young - maybe 30-ish. He's a little shorter than I am, very fit, carries himself ramrod straight and seems not terribly thrilled at having to deal with a lady needing letters for an adoption. As we're walking, I'm strangely aware of and disturbed by the gun in the holster at his side. He says absolutely nothing to me during our trip to the computer.

As we sit he asks for my license and once it is in his possession he starts tapping away into the computer.

He still says nothing.

Tap tap tap tap tap.

Then he prints out two letters: one for the State of Rhode Island confirming that I have no mysterious criminal past and the other for the Feds.

"This one is a request to the FBI for their records. You still need to submit this one," he says with a grim expression. "OK, let's go do your prints."

He gets up and then seems to remember that he has something to do, which turns out to be taking the gun out of his holster and putting it in a lock-box. My heart speeds up a bit and I feel a little nauseated seeing the gun in his hand. It certainly looks dreadful - much more so than the fake guns you see on TV.

Pocketing the lock-box key he motions for me to follow him stopping at a door marked "Cellblock."

As he opens the door he motions for me to stop. I do. He sticks his head around the door. I assume he is checking for any prisoners that might be in a cell, being removed from a cell or being loaded into a cell.


So we walk by the cells.

If you've never actually been in a police station before or seen real jail cells live and in person, let me tell you - it's damn intimidating. My heart speeds up a bit as we pass three very secure looking cells with serious looking bars and even more serious looking locks. As we come to another door marked "Booking and Processing", Mr. Silent Detective motions for me to wait. He sticks his head through the door and mutters, "Damn."

He motions for me to go back the way we came.

"I'm not sure how long that's going to take in there," he says.

Mr. Silent Detective looks at me and then at all of the cubicles and then at me again clearly having absolutely no idea what to do with me while whatever is happening happens in the Booking and Processing Room.

"I could wait back out in the lobby..." I suggest.

He looks relieved.

"Yeah, that'd be a good idea."

He resumes his silence as he leads me down the hallways again and back into the rather sterile lobby.

"I'll come get you when - er - when we can go back there," he says not really looking at me.

"That's fine," I say, "I have my book with me and I'm not in a hurry."

He nods briefly and leaves me to my own devices.

As I'm reading, a worried looking woman comes through the front door and approaches the reception window.

"Hi," she says, "I'm here about my son. I guess he's here?"

"What's his name?" says the police officer from behind the glass.

The woman relays the son's name to the police officer who confirms that the son is indeed there, "He's here. There was a warrant out for him. He's being processed right now."

"A warrant? Is he going to jail?" asks the mother.

"No, he's going to be taken to court."

"To Family Court?" (obviously this isn't the first time her son has been arrested.)

"Ah - no ma'am," says the officer, "he's 18 so no more family court. He's going to be charged as an adult."

"Charged? Charged with what?"

Just as she is about to launch into more questions, a door near her opens and yet another officer comes out to speak with her. To every questions he answers, "Ma'am I can't tell you anything about an ongoing investigation, but I will have your son give you a call in just a little bit when we're done."

"But he don't have his phone!" she says, anxiety making her voice climb higher.

"Yes, he has his cell phone and he will call you. You can see him in court later today, Ma'am."

The woman leaves looking a bit bewildered.

Oh my.

I read for a few more minutes when Mr. Silent Detective comes through a different door and says, "OK, we're all set."

Another trip down a maze of hallways finds us entering the "Booking and Processing" room from a different entrance.

Fingerprints are now done on the computer. It's actually kind of cool. (Well, cool for me because I'm not actually under arrest. Probably not so cool for the 18-year old guy who was just in here getting ready to go to court.)

Mr. Silent Detective has to take all of my information again to enter into yet another database. When he gets to "weight" he looks embarrassed, but asks me anyway.

"Can you just type in 'fat'?" I ask him with a smile and a chuckle.

He looks moderately horrified, "Er - uh -no - not really."

I laugh again and he finally cracks just the tiniest hint of a smile.

Once he's done putting in all of my pertinent info (including the actual number of pounds I weigh...yeesh!) he puts on purple latex gloves and asks for my right hand.

"Just let me do all of the work," he says.

He presses my right thumb onto a glass plate. I watch my thumbprint splash across the computer screen. Cool. He has to move my thumb around so that it is centered onto a red cross near the middle of the screen. The computer asks him to hold it there and then a bar across the top of the screen flashes a message when the computer is done loading my print. We repeat the process with the left thumb.

Then he takes my right hand again because we apparently have to roll my thumb across the glass plate. Same for the left. And then we have to do prints of the rest of my fingers - just once for the four on each side.

I try to ask some questions to be social, but Mr. Silent Detective isn't too interested in chatting.

After he finishes with my prints, he tells me that they'll call me when the FBI sends its report in about a week.

And that's it.

He takes me back to the lobby where I write a check for $24 and we're all done.

Certainly a very interesting, if quite disturbing, experience.

And one more step closer to being Plus One.


  1. The experience you describe makes me think about the woman you saw there and the journey she has had (and is having) with her son. I send them my hopes for peace... ~G2

  2. Hi Jennifer.Thanks for stopping by my blog. I had to go to our jail 2 or 3 times. It was just a lovely experience. I didn't have to go through the cell area but I did have to come back once because they were processing prisoners. Our jail currently has a woman who "alleged" killed one of her young children and attempted to kill another. It was weird being there trying to complete stuff to have a kid when I can't and then go by her exercising in the "yard" and her so clearly not wanting kids.

    Best of Luck with your homestudy and the rest of the process!