OSLO NIGHT ON VAN BURENA NORWEGIAN SEX-CRIMES DETECTIVE SCRATCHES PHOENIX'S UNDERBELLY
It is about midnight when the cop from Norway cruises East Van Buren Street for the first time.
"Wow!" says Einar Kristoffersen, three days into his first visit to the States. "My Godt!"
His guttural exclamations are not evoked by the hookers and drug pushers who normally haunt Van Buren. On this night, those who routinely traverse Phoenix's sin corridor are plying their wares elsewhere, mainly because of Sheriff Joe's posse and the Phoenix Police Department's vice squad.
Kristoffersen is amazed by the overwhelming police presence on Van Buren between 24th and 36th streets. Things are a bit different in the ancient town of Sandefjord, population 16,000, where he works as a police detective.
"We do not have this in my town," he says, speaking of the gun-toting cops and the wanna-be-cop posse volunteers. "We leave our doors and cars unlocked, and we leave each other alone. Most of the time, anyway, or I would not have a job."
Kristoffersen's tour guide is veteran Phoenix cop Mariano Albano, a cool head who grew up in the area and who now works the graveyard shift on East Van Buren.
But things are as dead as they can be tonight, thanks to the high-profile posse and the attendant media blitz. (I hate to pry, but are you a prostitute?" one TV reporter recently asked a pedestrian in the area.)
The quietude doesn't fool Albano, who's savvy enough to know it's a momentary lull. He tells the wide-eyed Kristoffersen about the transient nature of prostitution: Some ladies of the night have moved up to McDowell and other busy Phoenix thoroughfares. More mobile nubiles have moved on to other cities.
"We do not have this so wide-open like this," says the 40-year-old Kristoffersen, a bright, jovial father of four. "Except in Oslo."
Albano travels to Oslo every summer as a coach for an area youth soccer team. But he hadn't met Kristoffersen until a few nights earlier. A mutual friend is Dr. Tasha Boychuk, an expert on sex crimes who was introduced to Kristoffersen two years ago when she lectured at a seminar in Norway.
Boychuk encouraged the detective to visit Phoenix someday and see firsthand how his counterparts tackle their difficult jobs. For Kristoffersen--who breaks the monotony of the Scandinavian winter by skiing while tethered to his German shepherd--the visit to Phoenix has been the thrill of a lifetime.
"Everything in sex crimes here is ahead of where we are," Kristoffersen says. "I came here to learn how to better interview children, how to act and to be me at the same time."
Detectives from the Phoenix Police Department have welcomed Kristoffersen into their world.
"I have seen how they sit when they interview a child--on the same level, not above, staring down," he says. "You don't ask more than one question at a time. If you don't get an answer, okay. Take your time. Don't begin to sweat. Let some time go. It will happen."
But don't mistake Kristoffersen for an amateur at the art of interviewing. Not long ago, he collected the confession of Norway's most infamous child molester to date, a man who admitted to assaulting at least 20 children.
The bad guy is serving just seven years behind bars.
"Our judges and everybody are much nicer to these people than you are here," he says, a practice he believes "is not good."
Albano nods at that observation. He was once known as one of Phoenix's ace sex-crimes detectives. One reason he's back in uniform is the emotional wear he sustained as his kiddy crime cases inched through the criminal justice system, sometimes to an unsatisfactory result.
Albano considers the East Van Buren beat a cakewalk compared to his previous assignment.
"This is a no-stress job," Albano tells his Norwegian peer of patrolling Van Buren. "I'm straight-up with the people who hang out on this street. If I catch them doing a crime, I bust them. If they are victims, I try to find who did it--whether it's a pimp who beat up one of his girls or whoever. I do my hours and I go home. And I don't take the street home with me."
It takes Kristoffersen a moment to grasp the metaphor of taking a street home, especially this crime-laden street. Kristoffersen shakes his head and chuckles at Albano's idea of a stress-free environment.
"Oh, boy, I don't think so," he says. "I wouldn't want to do what you are doing now. My Godt!
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.