Her name is Barbara Meetze, a retired teacher and champion gardener. In March 2012, a warm spring day just like Friday, a man walked right past her as she dug in her front-yard garden on York’s Church Street. Seconds later, two police officers were chasing that guy. Just yards from her home, in the bushes across the street, the man fought with the officers. The man punched and kicked and spit at the cops. Finally the officers were able to subdue the suspect.
Underneath the man, on the ground, were two loaded pistols. Turned out the man, a young guy named Deelgin Robbins, was a wanted convicted felon who just 17 minutes before that struggle was part of a noon-time, broad daylight, drive-by shooting several blocks away.
One of the police officers who made that tackle, who was kicked and punched by Deelgin Robbins, whose back was wrenched and knee torqued, was no patrolman. It was York’s Police Chief, Andy Robinson.
“That man that day, he could have stopped right here and taken me hostage,” Meetze said Friday.
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But he didn’t have the chance. Because the police were there.
Robinson, the police chief for three years, is now the subject of a “use of force” investigation by State Law Enforcement Division agents. There is a videotape of Robinson’s handling of a suspect April 4 that is being investigated. The suspect, on probation, allegedly stole a car and led police on a high-speed chase. Anybody on the road at the time, by any measure, was in danger from this guy police say was fleeing at up to 100 mph in a stolen car until the cops caught him.
One thing is for certain: Deelgin Robbins, 26, a convicted dope peddler who shot at people on a city street with kids playing nearby, then tried to get at his guns to hurt Andy Robinson or any other person he could shoot at, is not the suspect. Robbins is in prison, serving 10 years for attempted murder, felony resisting arrest and assault on an officer, and weapons violations.
Robbins is in prison, and York’s streets are safer, because of Andy Robinson, the police chief.
That does not mean the current incident does not deserve scrutiny. Clearly, there should be an impartial investigation into whatever happened recently involving Robinson and a suspect. That’s how the public keeps confidence in the cops. Clearly, the videotape should be released so the public can see for itself what happened. Police car cameras were not instituted to protect officers. The cameras are for the public to see what happens and protect the public as police do their jobs.
If there was something out of line in the incident, if there was wrong “use of force” by police, people such as Barbara Meetze know there will be consequences.
Meetze said Friday she has confidence the investigation will be done properly. She spoke outside her home, as she gardened, just like the day two years ago when Robinson protected her and others from Robbins, the fugitive felon. “The police around here take serving the public seriously,” she said. “ I know because they have helped me.”
Twice, including just days ago, Meetze has had to call York Police Department officers for help. The first time was a break-in while she was away. The second time, earlier this month, her lawn mower, leaf blower and gas can were stolen. Meetze said she knows it is a not a big, huge deal, a stolen lawn mower, but the department sent two police officers to investigate.
“They treated it like it was the most important thing,” Meetze said.
There are consequences every time these officers have to chase and corral a suspect. There are emotions and adrenaline, and the threat that the guy running might have a gun and use it. In 2011, just after Robinson took over in York, an armed probation fugitive named Larry Adams, who was wanted for even more felonies, ran through the city’s streets for hours. Adams was taking potshots at cops and other people with a pistol. Officers eventually shot and killed Adams.
“I remember that one, too, because that man ran right through here,” said Meetze.
Robinson has not commented this week about the current state investigation.
But after he tackled that fugitive felon in 2012, he said that he jumped from his car, along with a lieutenant, because “I am not going to ask my people to do anything that I am not willing to do.”
Including now being willing to have others in law enforcement look at whether or not he may have been too heavy-handed.
Meetze, who has seen Robinson’s actions up close, said the current investigation does not undermine her confidence in Robinson or York’s police. She said when she needs them, they come.
Andy Robinson, the chief, two years ago on that same street, with a violent convicted felon rushing through York waving pistols, sure was there when Meetze needed him, too.