Respondent Sends Dog After Government Census Worker Because He Doesn't Want To Participate In Mandatory Survey - May, 2009
The Gainesville Police Department isn't the only local police agency to ignore standard procedure, to belittle or even to completely blow off a victim's filed complaints...
In May of 2009 I filed a complaint with the Alachua County Sheriff's Office about a man whom I was assigned by the government to do a survey with for the Census Bureau.
Participation in the these surveys is required under United States Code, and I'm assigned to do the job on a Congressional mandate, so I'm actually required to go out and do these surveys and I'm actually acting lawfully as I go about knocking on doors. We have ID cards, and business cards, and have placards placed in our front and rear windshields, and even our laptops have the "Census Bureau" logos on them. I even had to take oaths of nondisclosure and to protect everyone's privacy and confidentiality. Technically, people can be fined for non-participation in these surveys. However, in an effort to stay on everyone's good side, the Census Bureau never does do that...which tends to have the unfortunate effect of showing people that they can get away with non-participation, and which also sometimes tends to have the effect of endangering its employees when people get too overly "God Bless America" about it.
Not everyone is selected to do these surveys. Only about 1 person in every 2000, really. Most never see us, and participation is supposed to be considered something of a service to your country. Instead however, people tend to treat us like we're Hoover vacuum cleaner salemen and not government workers doing official and legitimite government work on real governmental authorization. They don't realize what's going on and kinda don't want to, and tend to throw all their conspiracy theorist rants at us. They blame us for their Social Security problems, and their problems with the VA, and their problems with the President, and with their government leaders...all things that we're not in charge of and for which we have absolutely no control or responsibility over. Often people are ready for a verbally abusive fight as soon as they open the door. On rare occasion they may even yell and scream at you when they allow themselves to get too emotionally out-of hand about their self-assumed "right" to not participate. And basically, we're required to be polite and take it and to continue to try to get the survey done. Patience is a definite requirement for this job and we have to deal with an awful lot. And unlike war veterans, we get no recognition for this as we go about in our daily service to our country. And unfortunately, on rare occasion, people will get themselves in a huff enough to make threats, and/or get harmfully hostile, and then we have to deal with negligently irresponsible things such as the following happening to us...
On May 9th, I knocked on the door of one respondent and he greeted me angrily and with some exaggerated accusations of inconvenience. A number of previous letters reminding him of mandatory participation had been delivered to him, and other Census employees had also contacted him by telephone before me. So this guy's had plenty of notification.
The man cursed and ranted and told me that he wasn't going to participate in the survey. As I turned to go back to my vehicle, he turned around and stomped to a screen door at the rear of the house and opened it and yelled "GIT im!!!" very loudly and then I could hear paws rapidly smacking dirt and then the screen door slammed shut. I could now see that the dog was a doberman pincer as it ran swiftly around the side of the house after me as I was opening the door of my car. I was able to shut the door just in time and barely get my window rolled up enough to prevent the dog from getting at me just as the dog made it to the car. When the dog got there the window had still been open about 6 inches - which was pretty frightening because it's snout was actually entering inside of my vehicle. As the window closed, the dog continued to put its face aginst my window barking wildly, and his claws were tapping and scraping all over my door. When I looked back at the front of the house I could see the owner standing in the door watching me with a very proud grin on his face. I had to back out very slowly in order to avoid harming the innocent animal which didn't know any better - only what its demented master had commanded it to do against another human...and it simply obeyed.
After leaving the property I drove a ways down the road until I was out of sight of the respondent's home and then pulled over into the shoulder and immediately called my supervisor to let her know that a respondent had tried to attack me using his dog. Then per the Census Bureau's Incident Response Team procedure, I called the police, and then called the CIRT 800-number to make an official report to the Census Bureau about it.
Threatening or attacking a federal government worker is against federal law and investigations are supposed to be mandatory. Incredibly, neither ASO nor the Census Bureau made any real effort at all to stay in touch with me about the event and follow it through. Neither agency conducted any official investigation, whatsoever. It was completely ignored by both agencies...ASO actually taking a full two months to respond to it, in fact, and then completely dropping it. So we can't even get any respect from the police, who aren't supposed to be doing anything that causes you any harm or which prevents you from the same protection that everyone else is supposed to be guaranteed.
Below are excerpts from my journal at the time regarding the incident.
MAY 9, 2009 - SATURDAY
Did Census round. Rang doorbell. Guy came up behind me in walkway. Angry. Accused CB of having no class. Angry because "you guys always come by during dinner time." Told me he wasn't going to participate in any survey, and that he didn't want to see me again. Didn't let up long enough to give me any chance to say anything. As I was walking towards my car, he went inside. Then there was a door slam from the back of the house and a large dog came running out towards me, barking at me, as I got into the car. As I drove away, I noticed that he was standing in the entrance of his garage watching me with his arms folded. I noted that he did nothing to recall the dog, issued no commands to make the dog stop.
Got home. Left message on [supervisor's] machine to call me back. She never called me back.
MAY 10, SUNDAY
[Supervisor] called. Said to make the last case a TYPE-A/OTHER and to "transfer to [supervisor]." Called her back and left a message advising that I had filed a police report to find out at least what had happened so that I can gauge what to do next. I guess I have to in order to cover my butt. If [supervisor] goes and a dog attacks her...and I didn't file a report... That cold be bad for me. I could be putting her and/or other FRs at risk of a dangerous animal attack if I don't. So I need to proceed with this to determine what this guy's intentions were. But...if he did indeed send the dog after me, that could be considered an attack of an officer in the federal government. Left similar notes in the laptop. Type-A'd the case. Requested a Better Understanding letter in an email. Then did an immediate transmission. Followed that up with another transmission just to make sure everything is visible on their screens come the morning.
Officer called back. Said the guy's name was Mr. ******, and they got his phone number and tried to give him a call but apparently he's not home. They will continue to try him and get back with me when they find out what happened.
No further word from ASO.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A "Type A" is flag for a "refusal" and they are counted against the Census employee's record. So, incredibly, in this situation the respondents threats and attempt at physical harm were not considered good enough excuse to take the case off my list without being counted against me...entirely due to the total lack of investigation effort made by either the Census Bureau or ASO.
MAY 11, MONDAY
12:08p - [Supervisor] called back. Recorded conversation. Described situation to her. She asked if the dog was actually angrily barking and gritting it's teeth and CHASING me. (She's trying to lead for specific answers.) I told her no, that the dog came up to the car, and sat there watching me. Also that the man was standing in the garage behind me with his arms crossed, watching the dog, but NOT RECALLING THE DOG. I advised that all dog owners are VERY conscious of what they're dogs are doing and are VERY wary of laws and accusations of attacks and harm. This man wasn't recalling his dog. He stood there, watching, but did nothing to recall the dog. Advised her that police were called. Her voice indicated surprise that I had actually done that. Procedures (and prudence) dictate that was the correct thing to do. What if another FR goes, and I DIDN'T call the police? I could be held responsible; get in trouble. I did it according to procedure. I did it ESPECIALLY out of concern for other FRs. I recommended not going there or sending anyone there until such time as the police get to talk with the guy and find out his intentions. I described that I rang the doorbell, that the man came up behind me, that I identified myself with my name and "I'm with the Census Burů" and the man cut me off, waving his arms and raving about how we have no class, how we're always disturbing him during his dinner time, how he said that he wasn't going to do the survey, didn't want anything to do with us, and how he wanted me gone, and that he didn't want to see us again, how he started walking off, how I didn't argue with him or say anything, how I began to leave IMMEDIATELY and walked to my car without argument. I told her that the man went into his garage, went into the house through the door, there was something yelled, like a quickly barked command of some sort, then a door slam from the back of the house, and then a large dog came rushing around the side. I told her that there was no injury, that I had already made it into the car, that the window was already up, so I was okay. But I told her that the WAY that the man handled that was in using his dog to intimidate and harass, to attack or not is not required by me to decipher. I told her that I called the police because I wanted to know the man's intentions, and to find out just what he was trying to do with the dog. I told her that that's how I described the situation to the police officer.
Called [supervisor] at ATL RO but she was not in. Spoke to another woman - forget her name - and requested the Better Understanding letter be sent to the respondent (per [supervisor]). Also explained the situation to her. Asked if she could explain the situation to Edwin for me and she advised that he was not in for the next few days.
No further calls from [supervisor], anyone in the Census Bureau, or from the Sheriff's Office, today.
MAY 12, TUESDAY
No word from Sheriff's Office.
MAY 14, THURSDAY
Called ACSO to find out status of case. Woman who answered said it looked on her screen like there was no action so far taken, that the officer had left a message on Mr. ******' machine but there was no response. Transferred me to another officer and got a voicemail. Left message.
Message on machine from ACSO. Same info as stated before: No return call from Mr. ******.
MAY 16, SATURDAY
Still no word from ASO.
JULY 3, FRIDAY
5:26p - Call from ACSO. Sgt. Hood apologized for not handling the situation properly. Advised respondent said he watched me get in car but did not know dog was out. In other words, he lied. Since there were no witnesses and it's his word against mine, there's nothing they can do.
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