Police 1, Cougars 0

To Serve and Protect, Chicago, Illinois

Cougar. No, not that kind of cougar! Read on see what I’m talking about.

Despite the lopsided score, the winners continued their losing streak in Chicago. That’s right. The police were criticized for shooting the cougar in a residential neighborhood, not far from Lincoln Park Zoo.

Well, the police are up against overwhelming odds in situations like this. In Chicago, when all other city agencies refuse to answer to calls that are technically their responsibility, the 911 center dispatches a police car to assess the situation. The police department is Chicago’s last line of defense–basically, to protect the city against civil law suits. All other city agencies may refuse to respond calls, including the fire department, but the police have to respond to every single call they receive regardless of how absurd it may seem to the average citizen.

I’m sure many residents who saw the cougar in their neighborhood called 911 to report it. And I’m sure they were surprised to see the police responding to the scene. Where was the Animal Control Unit? Certainly nowhere near the cougar. So the police show up, but it’s not like they could call the Animal Control Unit on their police radio to report a stray cougar because they are on a different frequency, in more ways than one.

When I was a police officer, several citizens reported some kind of wild cat on the lakefront in a residential area near some railroad tracks. I actually saw it running at a distance, but I couldn’t tell if it was a bobcat or a lynx or a lion, for that matter. There was nothing I could do as a police officer other than call the Animal Control Unit. When someone there answered their phone, they gave me the third degree over the phone. They wanted to know what I had seen. I said that it was either a bobcat or a lynx. But, no, they wanted to know exactly what kind of cat it was. I didn’t know. So they didn’t take me as seriously. Then they told me that they wouldn’t come out until I had secured it. What? How was I supposed to secure it? I even asked them to tell me how to secure it thinking they would actually know since they do work for Animal Control.

Well, they never responded to the scene because I couldn’t secure the cat, or whatever it was. Another time, some citizens called 911 and the police responded because there was a stray raccoon wandering around–but not just anywhere! This was in Mayor Daley’s neighborhood! This time I actually saw the raccoon up close on some rooftop patios right next door to the Mayor’s house. As I approached the raccoon, I could tell he was up to no good because he was wearing a mask. I cornered it, but I had to let it run past me because he tried to bite me. I cornered it again, but this time I didn’t approach it. I called Animal Control on my cell phone. Once again, they asked me to describe the raccon and they wanted the raccoon to be contained so they could just come by, scoop it up, and take it away. Then, I thought that they would come out sooner if I told them that the raccoon was next to the Mayor’s house. The voice at the other end immediately told me that they weren’t coming no matter what, now that they knew Mayor Daley lived close by. Once again, they refused to respond.

Why? Because their union was in negotiations with the city and the city wouldn’t give in on some of the issues. Well, I let the raccoon go because I sure wasn’t in the mood to get bitten by a raccoon that day, especially after that unpleasant interchange. So, I can just imagine what the police were up against when they received this call about the stray cougar. The officers probably asked for the Animal Control Unit to come to the scene, to no avail. They probably asked the dispatcher to call the nearby Lincoln Park Zoo to send a zookeeper with a tranquilizer gun to the scene of the cougar, all for naught. Then, suddenly, an officer sees the cougar rapidly approaching him, so he opens fire, sadly, in self-defense. The officer had no other recourse but to shoot or possibly, nay, more than likely, be attacked. Of course, the news cameras interviewed several residents who questioned why the police didn’t shoot the cougar with a tranquilizer gun. Well, because it wasn’t possible, citizens! The police are issued tranquilizer guns! Not in Chicago, the City That Works.