Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shots Fired 41st and Pine!

I'm generally suspicious of any calls from unknown numbers, but particularly those interrupting me at 1:16AM this morning. Naturally I screened the call, but this caller was determined to get through and left not only a voicemail but one better: a chilling text message about 'shots fired' at 'area of 41 pine.'

'41 pine' is a pretty specific location to pin the nebulous sound of 'shots fired' but okay, shit's going down at a street address about 9 blocks from my own apartment. I wasn't feeling threatened at this point, but curious and also wondering whom was behind this rather sophisticated security feature. At first I thought it was the City of Philadelphia, but this was hard to swallow for a number of reasons having to do with the City's general inability to perform basic tasks like trash pick up with anything approaching efficiency. Plus which, if I got a phone call and a text every time there were shots fired in the Philadelphia Police Department's jurisdiction I'd be blowing up like the World Trade.

So I turned to Google which revealed ace reporting by the Daily Pennsylvanian citing shots fired (and nobody injured, phew!) at the intersection of 41st and Pine streets as opposed to the street address 41 Pine street. Now things were making sense. This was the doing of the University of Pennsylvania and their largest private police force in the commonwealth. And then I remembered that I'm enrolled at Penn, paying tuition and taking night classes in the Old Dogs, New Tricks department, and so am entitled beneficiary of this level of protection. Which is at once impressive -- showing what a state-of-the-art privatized police force can do to keep its paying citizens safe -- but also a bit scary in the dual sense of being both a glimpse of the future of the surveillance state and testimony to how far behind our public police organizations are.

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