In the midst of what seems like a tidal wave of reports accusing police from coast to coast of abusing their power, using excessive force, overzealousness, racial profiling and taking the majority of the office donuts (Those were for everyone, Steve!), it’s nice to see a report that shows at least one police station still has their priorities in order. The sleepy little town of Post Falls, Idaho remains committed to pursuing justice to the letter of the law … in spite of how ridiculous that might make them look on a national level.
On paper, Post Falls, Idaho is just like any other midwestern town. The population of the sleepy little town tips the scales at around 30,000. Like most towns of this size, Post Falls has lower than average crime. Something like 2 murders have been committed there in the last decade. The only metric that really draws the eye at a cursory glance is Post Fall’s theft numbers. Even though theft cases still rank well below the national average, authorities must be under pressure to do something about it. That can really be the only explanation when taking into account the county prosecutor’s quest to rid the area of no good thieves.
On Saturday, Spokane’s KHQ relayed the story of a 9-year-old who’s currently sitting in a juvenile detention center for his crimes. After failing to appear in court twice, Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney Barry McHugh issued an arrest warrant for the unnamed child. What heinous crime brought the youth to authorities’ attention? Brace yourself, because it’s a rough one … he stole a pack of gum.
There are those who might suggest that the minor theft would have been best remedied with, oh say, being grounded for a few weeks or perhaps being made to publicly apologize for the theft (nothing like a little public shame to set a kid straight). However, when a store owner insists on pressing charges in cases like these, the courts are compelled to act whether they think the rule is nonsense or not.
When questioned, Post Falls Chief of Police Scott Haug explained that the warrant went out after the boy’s second failure to appear on a court date. The family, Haug said, “had no way to get [the boy] to the courthouse.”
“Had we known that before the court date we would have provided something for the family,” says Haug. “I wish we would have had more information that way we could have provided some sort of assistance.”
Given the amount of control most nine-year-olds have over their transportation, it makes perfect sense that he should be incarcerated for what amounts to a theft of a little over a dollar (and that’s assuming he took a big pack of gum). If he wanted to avoid jail time, he should have ridden his Huffy to the courthouse.
Isn’t it borderline ridiculous to elevate the punishment for this crime beyond a mere scolding? Surely a stern talking to from a cop could have put the right kind of scare in the kid. It’s not like he was peddling meth or committing assault.
After the kerfuffle, you can bet the child will get off with a slap on the wrist, which seems more than appropriate, especially after the insanity he’s already been forced to endure.