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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bad Boys, Bad Boys...

I love watching COPS.

Even though it's silly and predictable. Lots of people probably wouldn't think a show about police work could be predictable, but it is. There are three "incidents" per 1/2 hour show. The first incident is almost invariably a high-speed vehicle pursuit. This gets the adrenaline going, and will sustain you through the relative banality of the second incident, a domestic or a drug call, and the third incident, a domestic or a drug call.

The little monologues that these poor police officers have to suffer through delivering at the return from commercial break are as predictable as they are deadly:

"Well, I've known I wanted to be a police officer since I was (insert single-digit number) months old. My (insert any number of male family members) are cops-- I've got (insert slightly smaller number) brothers who are sherrif's deputies over in (insert name of some bullshit hicktown) County. There's over (insert very large number) years of law enforcement in my family. I was in the (insert branch of U.S. armed forces) prior to joining the police department. I love my job, there's always something exciting and different and the people of this city are basically (insert untrue, positive-sounding adjective)."

But that's COPS in a nutshell. More people these days are getting tased instead of shot, so I guess that's a good thing.

Sometimes on the show they will mix it up a little bit and devote an entire episode to a sting operation, where the police are working to get the drop on a suspect. They find the scummiest looking officer in the narcotics squad, tell him to stop shaving for a week, dress him up in a wife-beater and a pair of shat-in jeans and have him walking around selling drugs to the kindly townsfolk who are out... well, looking for drugs. Once a sale is made, an army of unadorned Crown Victorias come from out of nowhere and the druggie is efficiently whisked away, clearing the scene for another bust.

Rarely, they'll do reverse prostitution busts where they pad a female officer's bra and shove her in a duct-tape mini-skirt and red vinyl heels to go parade along some shitty street and pick up the local horny bastards who are looking to bust a cheap nut.

Just this morning, Mrs. Apron and I got into a rather heated discussion about the merits of these types of operations. Our debate was prompted not by an episode of COPS (yeah, we watch it together-- that gay or something?) but by a news report about a dentist who was arrested by police after the dentist had arranged to meet a "14-year-old girl" for sex. Of course, there was no fourteen-year-old girl, it was police officers posing online as a 14-year-old girl, presumably clinging to a sheet of common interwebisms like "ROFL" and "WTF?" to augment their assuredly stunted online tweencabulary.

While Mrs. Apron obviously has no love for pedo's, she made the argument that this style of policing was entrapment.

"Um... yeah, it is," I said. "So what?"

She claimed that at least some of the individuals arrested for crimes online may not necessarily have committed those crimes, or planned to commit those crimes, if the situation itself had not been there, i.e., if these police officers weren't posing as a vulnerable, lascivious 14-year-old girl, might this dentist just have kept going on practicing non-pedo dentistry in peace and harmony with the rest of the non-fondling world?

"So much of what I've learned about crime is that it's situational," she said. And indeed she is right about that. A crime is committed by a poor person. Let's say someone lost their job, and then they lose their house, and their car, and their means to get food. Well, sure, that person is going to steal. And, in order to steal, because stealing's dangerous, might he not try to procure a gun? And, in the course of stealing while being armed, might he not encounter a situation where the gun will be used? He might.

Mrs. Apron is right, of course-- crime is situational but I have to believe that, if these touchers and tweakers have the motivation, the lust and the drive, they will find and seek out a situation through which they may carry out those desires, whether the police are out there or not.

Just like the fact that so much of crime is situational, so much of policing is responsive-- and that has to change. The days when officers sit on their doughy asses or drive around the parks and cemeteries at night and just wait for the radio to crackle so they can hit the lights and gun the engine are over. With information technology and creative thinking, there have to be better ways to utilize law enforcement resources. Police respond generally after a crime has been committed, when there's a victim crying in a corner or lying, bloody on the ground. After the victim's dealt with, the police then go out and hunt for the offender. Wouldn't it be great to snag an offender without having the victim?

I don't believe the argument that trapping suspects by foiling them or presenting them with bogus situations is unethical, but I'm very curious to open this up to you readers to see what you think.

Here's my final two cents: if you go trolling the internet looking for jailbait, you need to know that you're playing Russian Roulette-- maybe it'll be what you think it is, and maybe it won't. That, frankly, is your problem.


  1. Have you ever seen the Dateline pedo stings? They set up a house. So those pervs are for real, yo. This might sound harsh, but a pedophile is a pedophile is a pedophile. Does your wife watch the Dr. Phil? These molesters get excommunicated from their family's kids and suddenly they develop an interest in being a counselor at Bible camp for preteens. Sick fucks that will do just about anything to get the right situation.

  2. It's not entrapment. Bottom line. The kinds of activities where police use these tactics are ones in which normal detection methods basically don't work, because they are committed privately with a willing victim who will not complain - generally cases involving prostitution, narcotics, and gambling. Encouragement is not entrapment. For it to be entrapment, the criminal design has to originate with the police AND they have to plant in the mind of an innocent person the disposition to commit the offense. As long as there is an independent predisposition on the part of the defendant, tough darts, the prosecution wins.

    And that is why I wasted six figures on my law degree. ;)

  3. Also I have to say that they may have left out The names of these chatrooms where the stalker and the "vittim" go to chat. I am NOT GOING to google to get a for instance but I dont think they are hooking up on yahoo. I think that the guys that get caught were up to no good. If you met literally a girl online would you think Goody and she talks dirty too? I dont think so. Only the pedophiles think that.

  4. vittim? vittim? I mean victim..oops!
    Shelley.. sheesh..


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