SERGEANT Riley, Fifth Precinct, Homicide Division, speaking."
"Sergeant, I would like to report a crime. Someone tried to poison my entire family."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm certain. I had my water and food analyzed by a laboratory and they were full of pesticides. Someone dumped the poison in our wells and rivers and not only my loved ones but all our neighbors may be croaking at this very moment."
"This is serious. Anybody have any grudges against you?"
"No one that I know of; Certainly we don't have enemies who would want to poison us."
"Maybe it's a crazy person who has some beef against the community. We better put out a dragnet."
"It's possible, but the person would have to have access to a lot of poison. Our pigs and cows are all sick and our horses are dying too."
"Let me get this straight. You think there is a mass murderer in your neighborhood?"
"Sergeant, I think there is a mass murderer in the county."
"You're not a kook, are you?"
"No sir. If you check my record, I am a very respectable person and have never been in trouble with the law."
"Okay, do you have suspects?"
"Well, the Frankenstein Chemical Co. is about two miles from my house and they've been dumping all sorts of sludge in the river.
"Sometimes it's green, sometimes a dark red and other times it's a deep brown. They do it mostly at night so no one will see them."
"Wait a minute, the Frankenstein Chemical Co. is a multimillion dollar corporation with plants all over the United States. I know the men running the one in this county. They're lodge brothers of mine. Are you accusing them of poisoning people?"
"I know it sounds hard to believe, Sergeant, but I have this niece who works in the company's office and she has memos signed by two of the officers instructing the Frankenstein employees to dump all the waste in the river at night. The memos say that if anyone questions them about it to deny they did it, because if they get caught Frankenstein will have to close down the plant and they'll all be out of jobs."
"So what's the crime?"
"They're knowingly poisoning all of us. Isn't that a felony?"
"No, that's an environmental problem."
"Let me ask you something, Sergeant. If someone came into your house and started sprinkling arsenic on your food and fed your dog DDT and poured cyanide into your children's milk, would you arrest him?"
"Damn right, I would, and I'd see he got sent up for life."
"What's the difference between that and a company doing the same thing to an entire community?"
"The police only deal with individual crime. We have no authority to arrest company officials just because they have no way of getting rid of their pesticides."
"Then you mean the average citizen has no recourse when a large corporation knowingly tries to kill him?"
"If the government thinks they're doing anything wrong they have ways of punishing people who dump their waste in the wrong place."
"What's the punishment?"
"I think it's a $5,000 fine. It could be less. But you better be careful before you make wild charges such as you have."
"I can arrest you for harassing a respectable business establishment."