Reason TV’s new feature: Don’t cops have better things to do?
posted at 5:28 pm on April 25, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
My good friend Ted Balaker produces the delightful Reason TV Nanny of the Month, and this week he rolled out a new recurring feature that focuses on strange priorities in law enforcement. This has a little more role-playing as part of the entertainment, but it also only features one nominee, at least in the initial installment. Ted takes a look at the odd choice of law-enforcement priorities in Homestead, PA, which has some of the highest rates of violent crime in the nation. Instead of working on that, however, one officer decided to spend time chasing down on-line prostitution … and arguably crossed the line in the sting:
From speed traps to seat belt checkpoints, officers’ actions often blur the lines between “peace keeping” and “revenue raising.” Those who helm law enforcement agencies are always looking for the next way to expand their purview. And then there are the long-standing, commonplace distractions, like busting drug users, dealers, and prostitutes. Don’t cops have better things to do?
Take the Pittsburgh-area officer who apparently allowed a prostitute to service him while he was in the service of the law.
Homestead Police Department Detective Ronald DePellegrin claims his actions have been taken out of context, but the context we have comes from the criminal complaint written by DePellegrin himself. He writes that “Becky Dymon,” a woman he found online and the target of his sting operation, removed her clothes. The undercover detective disrobed, and explains what happened next: “Becky started to perform oral sex on me, when I said oh [****], the cops were coming.”
Carl Bailey of the Homestead Police Union argues that DePellegrin did nothing wrong. “In the course of officers doing undercover work, sometimes they have to do what they have to do to effectuate an arrest,” says Bailey.
What dedication: If duty calls, Homestead’s finest are willing to endure oral sex!
Reason has a libertarian point of view, so they have a natural inclination to see much of the vice-squad work as being unnecessary in the first place. Others don’t have that kind of POV and want those laws enforced, so some of this has a YMMV flavor to it. However, Ted still has a good point about using finite law-enforcement resources in a violence-plagued community on misdemeanors. Also, this wasn’t a case of police trying to stop streetwalkers and pimps from turning a neighborhood into a center of degradation; the officer in this case sought out the suspect on line first.
It’s a good start to a potentially intriguing feature, and at the very least will keep us thinking about priorities in law enforcement. Keep an eye out for more.