Clematis Street Police Station
Residents of Clematis Street (and visitors to Clematis Street) are fortunate to have a large police station located right on the 600 block. I've had the opportunity to take several tours inside the building, which is of course filled with cool police stuff (including the police helicopter which can land on the roof of the building). We regularly see police cars coming and going from their location on Clematis Street, adding a nice sense of security to the area.
However, I probably did not have a full appreciation of the benefits of this to our neighborhood until I actually had the opportunity to see them in real action on a Friday morning in August 2009. Normally, it is very quiet on the 500 and 600 block of Clematis Street on weekday mornings as I begin my commute down the street toward the eastern end. But Friday was quite a bit different. While I was still in the covered walkway of our condo complex on the 600 block, I heard one of those police siren sounds that police cars sometimes make as they come to a quick stop. I also thought that I heard someone yelling something in a fairly loud manner. My initial thought was, maybe I should turn around and go back into the condo.
Then, before I knew it, right ahead of me on Clematis Street, I saw a large policeman moving methodically down Clematis Street toward the east, with his gun drawn, yelling very loudly, "Get down on the ground!" His movements were measured, deliberate, forceful, exactly like you might see it in a movie. I made a slight move toward the area to get a glimpse of what was happening and found a protected area behind a pillar where I could safely observe the activity. I could see that there was an old car stopped right at the corner of Clematis Street and Rosemary Avenue on the 500 block of Clematis, and police were rapidly surrounding it from all sides with guns drawn. They were all yelling "down on the ground". And the occupants of the car had immediately fallen down to the ground in full compliance with the clear orders.
I was struck by the professionalism and effectiveness of ths police action. Unlike what you sometimes see in news reports, there was no hitting or brutality going on. It was simply a quick rapid professional overwhelming show of force which surely convinced the bad guys, no matter what their original intention might have been, to completely capitulate and surrender. I prudently decided that it would be better not to be in the area so I chose not to walk down Clematis Street on my normal route to work next to this police take-down, and instead chose the alley half way in between Clematis and Datura for the morning's walk through the 500 block.
Later in the day, I found out from a local business owner (who had been informed later by Willie Perez, who handles security in various downtown areas) that the incident involved a robbery that occurred well north of downtown along Broadway, after which a police chase ensued, culminating in the final catching of the bad guys on Clematis Street. It's possible that the police were able to arrange such an effective take-down due to familiarity with the streets right in that area next to the police station.
I think one message from this incident should be, if you're a bad guy, don't come anywhere near Clematis Street or downtown, because these police have their act together and you will not have a chance here. That is certainly the impression I got from what I witnessed with my own eyes. I have to admit, it was a little bit scary, as I have always had the good fortune to live in relatively nice neighborhoods and have not ever had an occasion to experience this kind of police action. But overall, this experience made me feel even safer than I already do on Clematis Street, because the police station is right there, and these guys are really good!
Since the crime was a robbery and the perpetrators were caught without any significant problems, this incident did not make any of the local newspapers or news stations, as far as I'm aware. No hype or discussion ensued. Apparently, this is just part of the normal police work that goes on from day to day. It was extremely impressive to see it first-hand.