Tuesday, September 28, 2004

There will be order!

(Via The Register)

Pregnant woman arrested at Metro
(This is a .pdf file (*ack!*)--scroll down, it's on the left side of the first page and continued on page 4.)

This is worth some long quotes.

Sakinah Aaron, a 23-year-old mother-to-be, had just finished talking to her fianceƩ on her cell phone about that afternoon's doctor's appointment when next thing she knew, she was on the ground in handcuffs. Aaron, a petite woman who is noticeably five months pregnant, said she pleaded with the Metro Transit Police officer not to make her lay on her stomach for the sake of her baby. She says he did just that, with his knee placed firmly in her back.

[...]

Aaron was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, but she claims the charges were trumped up to cover for a police officer with a
bruised ego.


Aaron, who speaks with what she calls a normal New Jersey native loudness, said she was talking on her cell phone at about 4 p.m. with her fianceƩ as she walked to the Wheaton Metrorail station to board a bus.

"When I entered the Metro, my conversation had ended," Aaron said.

Once in the station, Aaron said she was approached by Metro Officer George Saoutis, who told her to keep her voice down. When she said he couldn't tell her what to do and mocked him for trying "to flex some muscle," she said he grabbed her hand and said he could arrest her.

"I was just on my cell phone talking loud," she said. "I just gave him a little lip, that's probably why he got defensive."

Not believing she was under arrest, Aaron said she tried to walk away as Saoutis held her arm. When she realized he was serious, Aaron said she
dropped to her knees and asked him not to put her on the ground because she was pregnant.


"I'm thinking between the ground and his knee, my water is going to break and I'm going to have a miscarriage or something," Aaron said.

You will note that the woman is not claiming to be a saint--she seems to freely admit that she bears some responsibility in this episode. (She could stand the dual lesson that smarting off to a cop rarely endears you to them and when they say "You're under arrest" they usually mean it.)

But talking loudly on a cell phone, even if she was swearing, as Officer Saoutis alleges, is not against Metro rules, and I can't see any rational example where it should merit arrest. At worst, it rates with the idiots talking on cell phones during movies. Throw the bum out, but arrest them? Who, exactly, are we kidding here?

This sort of treatment by police is why so many in our society no longer have faith in LEOs to equitably enforce the law. It breeds contempt of the law and those who enforce and administer it. Unchecked, it can lead to the breakdown of a civil society as each member decides that the law "doesn't matter" because it is enforced haphazardly and unfairly.

Keep it up, folks. Just keep it up. I'll issue a prediction. Soon, maybe within a couple of years, we're going to see a story that goes one of two ways. One, a cop tries this sort of thing on someone with a really bad attitude and the ability to turn the cop into a greasy smear on the sidewalk, and that is exactly what happens. Two, a cop is killed while a crowd of otherwise normal onlookers cheer. It will happen shortly after something of this sort receives wide media coverage because the abused citizen dies in the process. It won't be the cop who perpetrated the outrage, but that won't matter to the crowd--they all look alike in uniform.

And the lesson for the members of law enforcement? "One bad apple spoils the barrel." All it takes is the actions of one person to destroy years of careful work building community relations. A few minutes to piss away years of effort. Think about that, men and women in blue.

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