Streets & Sanitation

[A repeat from October 28, 2012]

For 5 plus years, I was an Assistant States Attorney – Felony Trial Division in Chicago.  My daughter was born in the middle of a brutal two week murder jury trial (for which I go back every three years to testify in parole hearings to argue against release of the killer).  Donna went into labor at about 2:00 a.m. on a Thursday morning.  I called my friend and partner in the case and said “Charlie – Donna’s having the baby. You’re gonna have to handle things today.” His response “Congrats but be here tomorrow.”   

The next day, I showed up at the office with my arms packed with files and three boxes of cigars.  So picture this — I’m in my office passing out cigars, smiling, yabbering, guys wandering in and out when suddenly a large chap appeared at my door.  He was wearing bib overalls, high rubber boots, thick shirt and a hat.  He leaned against the door frame.  “Is there a Scott Petersen here” he asked.  We all turned.  I raised my hand.  “Yeah.  That’s me.”  “You missin’ anything?” he asked.  I felt pockets.  Jacket.  My checkbook!  It’s gone.  “My checkbook” I said.  He held it up waggling it between two fingers.  “I found it on the street.”    I quickly dipped into my wallet for a twenty.  “Here” – I said taking the checkbook.  “Thank you. I apprec. . . ” “No.  That’s okay,”  he held up his hand.  “I’m with Streets and Sanitation.  I want you guys to know — we have a lot of good people in Streets and Sanitation.”    I then said “My wife just had a baby.  Can I offer you some cigars?”  He looked at the open box.  “That I will take.”  He grabbed a large handful of stogies and disappeared.

It’s funny how things happen – and there are moments of intense clarity.  Obviously I’ll never forget the birth of my daughter (I was there 🙂 ) but I’ll also never forget the integrity of that stranger.  Streets & Sanitation . . . . .  

Threat Level

The first time someone threatens to kill you – it gets your attention. The second and third times it does, but not as much.   In my other life, I dealt with bad people.  Bad crime.  Pretty intense stuff.  A few of the bad guys I dealt with took the enthusiasm I showed for my job personally.  When that happened, they were likely to lash out. 

Threats were rare.  But they happened.  The first time for me was Robert A.  A North Shore white scumbag punk who had a string of armed robberies.  He had cases all over.  So, I followed him.  From courthouse to courthouse.  Courtroom to courtroom.  Informing the judges of all the other cases.  And what a bad guy he was.  So Robert A. remained in custody – ultimately going down for the count.  After perhaps half a dozen of these expeditions, as he was being led away – he screamed at me.  Lunging.  Held back by court bailiffs.  He described in detail what he planned to do to me – and my family – when he got out. 

Our usual protocol was to report such threats to the Chief of the Criminal Division.  He would ask us to fill out a 3″ x 5″ card detailing the case, the parties and the threat.  That way – if one morning I was found floating in the Sag Canal, investigators could thumb through the file cards and have a heads up on where to start (“Lemme see. . . . Petersen . . . here he is . . . . Petersen was threatened by . . . . . . “).    

Streets & Sanitation

For 5 plus years, I was an Assistant States Attorney – Felony Trial Division in Chicago.  My daughter was born in the middle of a really nasty 2 week murder jury trial (for which I am still called back every 3 years to testify in parole hearings against release of the killer).  Donna went into labor at about 2:00 a.m. on a Thursday morning.  I called my friend and partner in the case and said “Charlie – Donna’s having the baby. You’re gonna have to handle things today.” His response “Congrats but be here tomorrow.”   

The next day, I showed up at the office with my arms packed with files and three boxes of cigars.  So I’m in my office passing out cigars, smiling, yabbering, guys wandering in and out when suddenly a large chap appeared at my door.  He was wearing overalls, high rubber boots, thick shirt and a hat.  He leaned against the door frame.  “Is there a Scott Petersen here” he asked.  We all turned.  I raised my hand.  “Yeah.  That’s me.”  “You missin’ anything?” he asked.  I felt pockets.  Jacket.  My checkbook!  It’s gone.  “My checkbook” I said.  He held it up waggling it between two fingers.  “I found it on the street.”    I quickly dipped into my wallet for a twenty.  “Here” – I said taking the checkbook.  “Thank you. I apprec. . . ” “No.  That’s okay,”  he held up his hand.  “I’m with Streets and Sanitation.  I want you guys to know — we have a lot of good people in Streets and Sanitation.”    I then said “My wife just had a baby.  Can I offer you some cigars?”  He looked at the open box.  “That I will take.”  He grabbed a large handful and disappeared.

It’s funny how things happen – and there are moments of intense clarity.  Obviously I’ll never forget the birth of my daughter (I was there 🙂 ) but I’ll also never forget the integrity of that stranger.  Streets & Sanitation. . . .