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Case shows how thin the blue line is

Sun., Dec. 19, 2004

Spokane’s Thin Blue Line is skinnier than Mary-Kate Olsen.

Oh, sure, local cops have always complained about being overworked and understaffed.

I’ve always blown it off as chronic institutional whining – until now.

It appears our police professionals are so strapped this holiday season that there isn’t anyone qualified to take telephone complaints from women who believe they are victims connected to the city’s latest high-profile rape case.

I learned this reading our Thursday follow-up story on the Arlin Jordin scandal.

Jordin, a Spokane property manager, was recently charged with second-degree rape of a woman. She accuses the 57-year-old of drugging her drink and then assaulting her sexually while she was unconscious.

Jordin is innocent until proved guilty, naturally.

But after news of his arrest began to circulate, something alarming occurred. Thirty other women came forward to report their own up-close and personal brushes with the man.

These women will never be mistaken for an Arlin Jordin Fan Club.

They contend that they, too, were drugged after receiving drinks from him.

And there may be even more of them out there trying to summon up enough raw courage to pick up a telephone and make a call to the police.

Too bad the police don’t want to hear from any of them just now.

To quote a passage from reporter Thomas Clouse’s story:

“The Spokane Police Department declined a request by The Spokesman- Review for a photograph of Jordin.

“Police Spokesman Dick Cottam said printing Jordin’s photograph may generate more calls. Since (Detective Jan) Pogachar is on vacation, the department doesn’t have anyone with knowledge of the case to answer the phone, he said.”

That’s right, Cottam. We’d hate like hell to publish a photograph and dredge up more evidence.

I’m hardly an expert on police procedure. Everything I know about law enforcement comes from watching “Cops” on TV.

But I don’t think “wait until the detective comes back from vacation” is a great message for police brass to be sending out to potential victims.

Perhaps Jordin is an innocent target of the biggest character assassination smear job in city history.

Or maybe he’s a Kevin Coe with chemicals.

Let the judicial system run its course. But no matter what happens, I’d think police would want to hear from each and every alleged witness/victim – ASAP!

Pogachar may be the go-to person. But how tough can it be to get someone at least up-to-speed enough to answer the phone and jot down a few intelligent notes?

If staffing is this tight at the police department, I shiver to think what the service is going to be like next year. Because of a budget crunch, 66 police and fire officers are expected to lose their jobs in 2005.

I can see it now:

DISPATCHER – “Hello, Spokane Police.”

CITIZEN – “Yes. I’d like to tell you about this creep who flashed me yesterday.”

DISPATCHER – “I’m sorry. Everyone in the Creepy Flasher Unit is on spring break right now. However, we do have some very competent officers in our check fraud division. Would you like to report a bad check?”

CITIZEN – “Huh? I don’t have any bad checks.”

DISPATCHER – “Are you sure? There are a lot of bad checks floating around.”

CITIZEN – “No. I want to tell you about this flasher.”

DISPATCHER – “Well, you’ll have to wait until next Tuesday. That’s when the officers with the most knowledge of creepy flashers will be back from vacation.”

I think there’s only one solution to this and that’s setting up an Arlin Jordin Holiday Hotline. Anyone with new information on this case can call me at 459-5432. Leave a message. I’ll call you back and pass on whatever I get when Pogachar returns.

As always, I’m here to help.


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