In 2018 it is abundantly apparent that there is a new wave of activism taking place in the United States. Statues that have stood for years are being torn down. Buildings are being renamed to less “controversial” names. Even Christmas songs (Baby Its Cold Outside) and Christmas shows (Rudolph) are being attacked and labeled racist or misogynistic, or whatever term of political incorrectness fits the bill.
So how does this apply to policing? Well, in many ways to be quite honest. In a recent move to continue fighting the politically correct fight, the City of Dallas, Texas has decided to let a long standing city ordinance pertaining to juvenile curfew hours expire on January 18, 2019. The ordinance was first enacted in 1991. The ordinance forbids juveniles under the age of 17 to be outside without an adult between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and additionally restricts parentless kids from roaming the streets from 12:01am to 6 a.m. on the weekends. Basically, the nothing good happens after midnight rule is in effect here. Seems logical. Apparently not anymore.
On the surface, a person might be confused as to how getting rid of a simple law like not allowing juveniles to run amuck at all hours of the night is a good thing. Well, like I said, it’s 2018. We can’t even listen to songs or watch television shows that have been in existence for decades, without someone getting into a tizzy.
Specifically in Dallas, city council members with the backing of multiple civil liberties groups, support the move to let the ordinance expire and no longer be enforceable by Dallas Police Officers sighting concerns that it creates “disproportionate minority contact through enforcement”.
Okay. So does this suggest that only in minority neighborhoods are juveniles roaming the streets at all hours of the night? Do we really think police officers salivate at the idea they can roam around Dallas and detain juveniles for being out past curfew? You have go to be kidding me. I can assure you, they have better things to do. But don’t get me wrong, the ordinance is a tool in their tool belt. This will make sense by the end of this article.
For those of you unfamiliar with the state of affairs in the Dallas Police Department, they are not immune to the nationwide manpower shortage of police applicants and rapid attrition through retirement and people choosing other careers. Needless to say, Dallas Police Officers are too busy chasing multiple pages of pending calls for service, they don’t have the time to disproportionately enforce any 27 year old ordinance.
So what’s my point?
The point is quite simple. The law is the law. The ordinance in theory most will agree makes sense. It’s really quite simple, if you aren’t outside at the age of 15 roaming the streets at 3 a.m. without a parent, you don’t have anything to worry about. It doesn’t matter what you look like, what your last name is, or anything like that. Either you’re in violation of the ordinance, or you’re not. The suggestion that this ordinance somehow negatively impacts minorities seems to suggest that only minority children are out roaming the streets in the wee hours of the night. If that is the case, is that the fault of the police? Or maybe their parents? The saying “nothing good happens after midnight” isn’t a saying because it isn’t true.
I’m not suggesting that police officers across the country should be focused on aggressive curfew violation enforcement. That’s clearly nonsense. However, what I am saying, is the more we continually remove laws from the books that may seem minor, petty, or solely what we call “quality of life” laws, the more you are “handcuffing” police officers from doing their jobs.
Even the small innocuous laws are important for police officers, as they allow for what they call “reason for contact”. For those of you who aren’t legally inclined. Police officers need a law to be broken – or suspicion that criminal activity is taking place or about to take place – in order to stop (detain) someone. If you run a red light, speed, or they see you walking down the street with an open alcohol container if it’s illegal, they can now stop and talk with you. To add context pertaining to the curfew ordinance, if this law expires and is never reinstated, when that officer working the overnight shift sees four “young juveniles who may be under 17” of any skin color, dressed in all black, walking down the street, the officer can’t stop them and see what they are up to. Maybe they have handguns in their waistbands and were planning to rob people as they returned home from the bar? Maybe they are headed to break into the local business? Maybe they are headed to watch a movie at their other friend’s house and they just happened to be wearing dark colored clothing? We can maybe any scenario to death, but the fact remains, laws allow officers to do their jobs.
The worst thing about policing is we can’t measure the unmeasurable. There is no metric for measuring the murders, rapes, robberies, or shootings they prevent through proactive policing. You can’t measure what you prevented by stopping a person walking to the back of a closed business at 2 a.m. who happened to have a crowbar hidden on their person. Were they headed to commit a burglary or a murder? Maybe both? Who knows? There’s no “statistic” for that.
So it’s up to you. We can continue down the path of unabated political correctness and completely take away the ability of police officers to do their jobs. Or, we can have some common sense and see laws and ordinances for what they are, laws and ordinances. If you don’t break them, you won’t be affected by them. If you choose the path of complete political correctness, then don’t be pissed off when you tell a police officer you’ve been a victim of a crime and the police officer replies, “Oh yeah, I saw that person walking down the street earlier, I thought it was weird, but I had no legal reason to stop them. I’m sorry this happened to you.” Because that is the way we are headed.
Thank an officer today.
The Officer Next Door