Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Unacceptably shoddy public "service"

On Thursday, May 7, 2009, I contacted L/CSO Juan Pieve, the head of security for the O'Connor Federal Building and the person with whom I filed a formal complaint last month about being rousted by two of his security officers for doing nothing more than engaging in lawful activities while standing on a public sidewalk. I was attempting to find out if my complaint had been investigated, and what, if any, resolution had been reached.

Officer Pieve politely informed me (Pieve has been professional and service-oriented at all times during my interactions with him) that the matter was no longer under his purview, and that I would have to contact Deputy U.S. Marshal Jennifer Harkins for additional information regarding the status of my complaint. He helpfully stated that Ms. Harkins had already left for the day, but that I could give her a call the following morning.

The next morning, Friday, May 8, I called Deputy Harkins, identified myself and my reason for calling, and left her a voice mail asking her to call me back. She did not do so.

Curiously, though, right after I left my phone message, someone from the Department of Justice in Potomac, Maryland spent a good while on my blog after performing a specific search for "rousted by courthouse security":

(Click on the picture for a larger view)

This non-random arrival of a DOJ employee onto my blog so soon I left my message for Deputy Harkins leaves no doubt in my mind that someone was immediately alerted to my request for more information concerning the status of my complaint, and that instead of giving me the basic courtesy of returning my call (even if only to tell me that the matter was still under investigation), that person instead decided to do some more investigating into just who I am (which is nothing more than a law-abiding citizen) and what my agenda is (I wish to learn the status of my legitimate grievance).

On Tuesday, May 12, having not heard back from Deputy Harkins, I left another voice mail for her at approximately 9:00 a.m. local time. She again did not return my call.

On Wednesday, May 13, having not heard back from Deputy Harkins, I called yet again, and this time was informed via voice mail that (paraphrased) "I (Harkins) am currently on the phone. Please leave a message and I'll get back to you."

When, then? Christmas?

I then called the main switchboard in order to verify the mailing address of U.S. Marshal David
Gonzales, Harkins's supervisor and the person who will be the recipient of the letter I am currently drafting detailing this inexcusable level of service and utter lack of manners from one of his employees. After getting the address, I then asked the pleasant lady on the other end whether Deputy Harkins was out of town, on vacation or otherwise indisposed, as I wished to give her every benefit of the doubt for failing to return my numerous phone messages.

The lady immediately answered (paraphrased) "Oh, no, she's here, let me transfer you to her". She promptly did so, and I was again invited to leave a voice mail message for Deputy Harkins.


I will be posting my letter of complaint to Marshal Gonzales via registered mail tomorrow morning, and will be copying in the local U.S. Attorney's office as well. This discourteous treatment from a taxpayer-paid employee to a law-abiding member of the public that they purport to "serve" is completely unacceptable, and only serves to further legitimize my original complaint, which is that the officers in that facility are making up their own laws, rules and procedures as they go. To that list we can now add "unacceptably shoddy interaction skills with the public", with the exception of Officer Pieve and the nice lady who answers the phone in the marshal's office.

I'll provide an update once I receive a response.

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