A Phone Call with Lebanon’s Police

I keep hearing about security plans for this country, especially for the places where security has been non-existent. My idea of a security plan, despite me not being an expert whatsoever, involves – at the very least – a sense of involvement from the police seeing as we are asked nowadays to report any suspicious behavior because you never know if that behavior might lead to us getting blown up.

For instance, one of the two bombers in Tripoli apparently parked double parked the car in broad daylight and simply walked away. People called after him and I’m sure someone might have tried to call 112. What would 112 have done in that setting?

I present to you a transcript of a phone call of a man from Tripoli, the city that was victim of two explosions on Friday, with the police in his city. I’m not sure if this is funny or harrowing.

Police: Alo, police.

Man: Alo, I want to report a person who set up a checkpoint while carrying a weapon.

Police: Where?

Man: Next to the Ayyoubi store for paint products.

Police: Where? Bab el Ramel?

Man: At Muharram, yeah. He’s standing there, asking people where they’re coming and going.

Police: There are 5000 armed men in Tripoli, okay, habibi.

Man: But he’s setting up a checkpoint!

Police: There are 5000 armed men in Tripoli doing like him.

Man: Do I shoot him then?

Police: I don’t know. You can do whatever you want.

Man: Seriously? Are you the state or not?

Police: It’s fine, may God give you strength.

(hangs up).

I especially liked the fact that the policeman told the civilian to do whatever he wants when the latter suggested to shoot the gunmen. Is this what they’re expecting of people nowadays? Self-security because our police are too nonchalant and passive?

What’s next if every region or sect sects up its own brand of self-security? What’s the point then of having a state from which we need protection?

Check out the video here.

Tripoli’s Gang of Thieves & Lebanon’s Police

A friend of mine parked his motorcycle yesterday in front of a house he was visiting in my hometown only to hear the engine ignite a few minutes later.

He ran outside and saw a stranger driving his bike away. He frantically tried to chase him but there was no car. He was fortunate enough to have a family member be in Batroun at the time of the theft. That person immediately called the police hotline 112 as he chased the motorcycle driver on the Lebanese highway.

The police informed him that he was not allowed to ram his car into the motorcycle and that he should let them know where he was driving at all times. So he told them when he passed the Mseilha Citadel. He told them when he passed Chekka. He told them when he passed Anfeh.

He kept his phone to his ear and spoke to the policemen on the other end thinking or maybe hoping that they’d do something. Slightly south of Tripoli, at the Punto Alto side street, the biker disappeared.

The drive from Batroun to Tripoli took about 20 minutes during which the police was more than informed about the chase taking place. And they still didn’t set up an impromptu checkpoint on the highway to stop the thief, which we would all agree is not highly unusual given their Beiruti practices at random hours of the A.M.

As a result of our super qualified policemen, the $7000 motorcycle is now in the hands of some gang in Tripoli who, I’m sorry to disappoint you, is not made up of Syrian nationals.

How do I know this? Well, the plot thickens.

During the past week, more than eighteen similar motorcycles were stolen in the coastal Batrouni town of Kfaraabida which many of you know for its beaches and Pierre & Friends. The police were, obviously, informed of the grand theft. After all, we were talking about eighteen motorcycles. But they obviously didn’t do anything about it.

However, not all of those motorcycles remained stolen. Some people whose bikes had been taken away got in contact with people in Tripoli who had contacts in those gangs. They set up an exchange: a decent sum of money for their motorcycle. So they kind of purchased back their bike.

The man whose bike was stolen went on the same route. He hasn’t gotten back his bike yet but he’ll know soon enough if there’s a chance to retrieve it or if it has already been shipped to Syria.

Of course, this isn’t new when it comes to our police. A few years ago, my physician uncle woke up in the middle of the night in our Achrafieh apartment to a ruckus in the street. He went to the balcony to see someone breaking into a store at the base of our building.

My uncle’s knee-jerk reaction was to call the cops. A few attempts later, a sleepy person replied and asked my uncle to call again if the thief came back. Because that obviously makes perfect sense. So as the thief filled up his car with whatever he could find in that store, there was nothing my uncle could do. What if the thief had a knife or a gun? It’s not our job to do what policemen should have been doing at that point.

I don’t expect anything from our policemen. Maybe a checkpoint that actually serves a tangible purpose. Or trying to intercept one of those money-for-bike exchanges so maybe, just maybe, we could feel safer. Until then, which should be until forever, hide your cars, hide your bikes, hide your precious belongings. It’s the wild wild west over here. But no matter what you do, don’t call the cops. It’s only 1) a waste of your time, 2) a waste of your precious minutes and 3) another thing to make you infuriated and angry.