Strange Crime

One thing I always tell my students is that the main function of the police is to arrest people.


Wait a minute!  That can’t be it!  What about preserving order, protecting the public, and all that stuff?  Surely there are other things the police are supposed to do besides arresting people?

Oh, sure, they sometimes direct traffic or write out a ticket.  But while those are jobs that the big bosses tell them to do, it is just make work until something happens where they can arrest someone.

Don’t believe me?

A woman rents a video in 2005, and fails to return it.  The rental store asks a judge to issue a misdemeanor criminal charge of failing to return a videocassette, and the charges are still pending.  Now, nine years later, the woman was arrested.

vhs videocassette

How did the sheriff’s department catch her, since they would not normally bother to hunt down a suspect for such an inconsequential crime?  It would appear that the woman in question was looking to report another minor crime, one in which she was the victim.

Who will gain satisfaction if the young woman is jailed?  The video rental store which rented the purloined cassette has since gone out of business, so there isn’t anyone who can collect any fees or fines.  I don’t think that public safety is enhanced now that this young woman was taken to the county lockup.  Since there is no evidence I have heard that she has committed similar crimes, that she is a serial non-returner, the claim that she is likely to commit similar crimes in the future is called into doubt.

But make no mistake.  The law enforcement agency in question, and the law enforcement officers who were involved in the arrest, did exactly what they were supposed to.

The function of the police is not to decide who is right and wrong, that is for the courts to decide.  (Take my word for it, you never want to live someplace where the cops decide who is guilty and who is innocent.)  They might not actively pursue suspects of rather minor crimes, as that would be a misuse of scarce resources, but they are tasked with arresting anyone with an outstanding warrant that might stumble into their grasp.  And that is exactly what they did.

Which is why I strongly urge my students to never speak to a police officer if at all possible, particularly if you are forced to defend innocent life with lethal force.  No matter how in the right you think you are, talking to the cops will gain you exactly nothing.  It is for the local prosecutor or grand jury to decide if the case goes to trial, and it is for the judge to decide if you spend time in jail for your actions if the case does land in court.

So you almost certainly will be arrested if a criminal forces you to defend yourself, and at the least you will be detained while the cops sort everything out.  If this happens in the United States then you should sit tight, button your lip, and repeatedly insist that a lawyer be provided.

Whatever you do, don’t argue with the police!  What do you think they will do when confronted with someone who looks like this?

angry man swearing

4 thoughts on “Strange Crime

  1. The first job of the police is to protect the police. Against bad guys, against budget cutters, whoever.

    If you are in a dangerous situation, calling the police won’t guarantee somebody rushing in to help. You might win the lottery and get a young naive cop willing to trade his life for yours, but probably you’ll get a guy willing to stay in his cruiser until back up arrives (who will stay in their cruisers until management arrives. Who won’t arrive, because it is a night/weekend).

  2. I teach my students to say things like:
    “Officer, he/she/they forced me to defend myself.”
    “Their weapon is over there.”
    “This that and those people saw what happened.”

    (Point out any supporting evidence ie: there were more than one, they shot at me, injuries to yourself)

    And then say “Officer you know how this important it is, I want to speak to a lawyer.”

    Then zip you lips!

    The only exceptions are to ask for medical aid or be taken to a hospital and doctor or to state that you knew you were dead and there was no question you were going to die if you didn’t defend yourself. and then zip the lips!

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