Monday, October 22, 2007

But, I'm Not a Criminal...

I don't understand. People want the police to enforce the law. They want us to take bad guys to jail, stop speeders from driving on their street, and keep terrorists from destroying things and killing people.... just as long as we don't stop or question them.

I mean, what the hell is up with this "Enforce the laws, just don't enforce them on me" bullshit?

People want us to enforce the drunk driving laws, but then when they get arrested for DUI it's always, "Why aren't you guys out there catching the real criminals?"

People complain that cars drive too fast on their street, but then they complain when I stop THEM for speeding on their own street.

I write them parking tickets and they ask if I'm serious. I'm serious as a damned heart attack.

I heard on the radio yesterday that a Pakistani actor was detained and questioned at an airport as he entered the United States. He was polite, and had nothing but good things to say about the Customs people who interviewed him. He was not mistreated in any way. Then a woman said four hours was an unreasonable detention. Umm, excuse me? I have detained people for longer than that, and they weren't even suspected terrorists.

People say "We want more security". But don't you dare stop them in an airport to question them. "I am not a terrorist!" How do we know that if we don't ask you questions. If I had a dime for every person who told me they didn't have a gun, or dope, or a needle, and then I found the very thing they said they didn't have, I'd be rich.

Just because someone says they are not a criminal or a terrorist, doesn't mean I'm going to say "Oh, geez, sorry, you're right, I'm wrong" and cut them loose.

I think the problem is that the average citizen has no idea how the law works. I've found the average Joe thinks he can't be arrested unless I can prove he has actually committed a crime. For the non law enforcement crowd, here's a basic lesson in criminal law.

If I have a reasonable suspicion that crime is afoot, and that you are somehow involved with that crime, I can detain you for a reasonable amount of time to allow me to investigate that crime. I don't need to prove you have committed a crime to detain you. I only need a set of facts and/or circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to believe a crime has been committed, or is about to be committed.

To arrest you, I only need probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, and that you are responsible for the commission of that crime. I don't need a witness, although it helps. I don't need to have your fingerprints on the proverbial murder weapon. I do not need to prove that you committed that crime. That is for a jury to decide.

So please, once again, make sure you know what you're talking about before you tell me how to do my job. I'm sure you're a great person, and you never even speed or jaywalk, but don't tell me I need to enforce the laws on someone else when I am focusing on you, okay?

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