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Editor's Corner
with PoliceOne Senior Editor Doug Wyllie

Picture yourself in this officer's boots. It's late on a Sunday afternoon, the sixth day worked in a long work week, and you're in the town's trailer court - where very few residents speak English - located on private property, and accessible by a single entrance.

Rob Hall, Chief of Police for the La Crosse (Va.) Police Department, recently told PoliceOne about an incident in a trailer court ...and how it provided a "teaching moment." (Image courtesy of La Crosse PD)

"It was not turning out to be a very happy day in the trailer court," Rob Hall tells PoliceOne. Hall, Chief of Police for the La Crosse (Va.) Police Department, recently recounted an incident that took place in that trailer court involving the aforementioned officer ...and how it provided a "teaching moment." It won't ruin the story to tell you now that at the end of that day, the officer had been given a two-day suspension without pay.

There had been problems in the trailer court. A small, recently arrived group of individuals from one country had recently been agitating an established group of residents from another country. The second group had shown amazing restraint, but patience was wearing thin, and more and more the sentiment was shifting to handling things as they would be handled "back home."

Hall tells PoliceOne that while there had once been talk of paving the drives within the trailer court, cars now travel down heavily eroded, one-lane dirt paths - most of which are cul-de-sacs. One of the effects of this road structure is that once a driver has entered this knot of poorly surfaced roads, forward and backward are the only options - turning around is "an adventure" - so it's simply easier to back out the way you come in.

Further complicating matters, in addition to all the dips and potholes that threaten to remove the undercarriage of any vehicle traveling more than five miles an hour, there are two manholes. Because the original intention was to pave the streets, these two manholes remain as flat-topped monuments of steel and concrete, rising to an elevation of about six inches or more above the uneven surface, depending on current erosion conditions. Frequent visitors to the trailer court know the drill: move to the right of the first manhole, move to the left of the second. New visitors entering the trailer court in a car with any speed, especially at night, frequently had most unpleasant automotive experiences...

In an action of pro-active community policing, the officer had gone into the trailer court to make separate contact with both groups, Hall tells PoliceOne.

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