Green Room

Reason TV’s new feature: Don’t cops have better things to do?

posted at 5:28 pm on April 25, 2013 by

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.

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Considering that the police have always been used to regulate citizens private sexual choices, why are conservatives so confused? And since when did conservatives oppose such actions? Or do we forget that Lawrence v. Texas was not a unanimous decision, nor did I see conservatives celebrating that decision.

libfreeordie on April 25, 2013 at 5:53 PM

libfreeordie on April 25, 2013 at 5:53 PM

You’re cute when you lump social conservatives in with libertarians.

Nethicus on April 25, 2013 at 5:58 PM

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.

Yup. Count me among those who want to see the law enforced.

The only thing inappropriate about the sting was that an arrest should have taken place as soon as she showed up. It shouldn’t have required the cop “reaping the benefits” at all.

Stoic Patriot on April 25, 2013 at 7:00 PM

And the most absurd part about this is that the officer requested permission to engage in this under the covers operation.

“Hey, sarge, mind if I solicit that hooker for sex on the government dime, so long as I arrest her when we’re done?”

“Nah, we’re government employees, so we’re supposed to screw the people.”

Longing4Lincoln on April 25, 2013 at 7:06 PM

They’ll never get a conviction. She … swallowed the evidence.

thegringo on April 25, 2013 at 7:18 PM

“Becky started to perform oral sex on me, when I said oh [****], the cops were coming.”

Were they?

Daryl on April 25, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Most cops are lazy douche bags, they also prefer to pick on people that they know will not harm them, hookers, drug users, the poor. Cops get brave when large groups of them get together and put on all their new military equipment supplied by the DHS and roust hundreds working class and middle class people from their homes while hunting down a signal fugitive.

Wallythedog on April 25, 2013 at 7:52 PM

“Becky started to perform oral sex on me, when I said oh [****], the cops were coming.”

One of them probably was…

Yoop on April 25, 2013 at 7:55 PM

Dear President Obama,

Legalize prostitution, along with pot.

Sincerely,
Cop of 12 years and a supervisor.

RedNewEnglander on April 25, 2013 at 8:11 PM

Most cops are lazy douche bags, they also prefer to pick on people that they know will not harm them, hookers, drug users, the poor. Cops get brave when large groups of them get together and put on all their new military equipment supplied by the DHS and roust hundreds working class and middle class people from their homes while hunting down a signal fugitive.

Wallythedog on April 25, 2013 at 7:52 PM

Daddy didn’t love you, did he?

RedNewEnglander on April 25, 2013 at 8:12 PM

Absurd and wrong.

John the Libertarian on April 25, 2013 at 8:12 PM

where do I sign up ?

rik on April 25, 2013 at 8:13 PM

Legalize prostitution, along with pot.

Sincerely,
Cop of 12 years and a supervisor.

Ditto.
Cop and supervisor for 32+ years.

ChicagoBlues on April 25, 2013 at 8:52 PM

Me thinks he pulled the short straw, she looks terrible. Where are the hookers that look like Julia Roberts?

tommer74 on April 25, 2013 at 9:49 PM

Considering that the police have always been used to regulate citizens private sexual choices, why are conservatives so confused? And since when did conservatives oppose such actions? Or do we forget that Lawrence v. Texas was not a unanimous decision, nor did I see conservatives celebrating that decision.

libfreeordie on April 25, 2013 at 5:53 PM

Ed could have posted a cooking recipe and your comments would be just as predictable.

Now to be on topic and actually address the issue at hand: the police are supposed to enforce the law, no matter how petty it may seem. That is their job. I love joke about cops and their priorities as much as the next guy, but if Reason has a problem with the laws then they should focus on the lawmakers instead of law enforcement.

Daemonocracy on April 25, 2013 at 10:22 PM

They’ll never get a conviction. She … swallowed the evidence.

thegringo on April 25, 2013 at 7:18 PM

I assure you I am laughing behind my facepalm. ;)

Daemonocracy on April 25, 2013 at 10:25 PM

Me thinks he pulled the short straw, she looks terrible. Where are the hookers that look like Julia Roberts?

tommer74 on April 25, 2013 at 9:49 PM

Did you check the stable at the horse track?

philoquin on April 25, 2013 at 10:55 PM

Daemonocracy on April 25, 2013 at 10:22 PM

If there are unsolved thefts, rapes, and murders cops should spend their time hunting the more dangerous criminals.

Slowburn on April 26, 2013 at 12:50 AM

They’ll never get a conviction. She … swallowed the evidence.

thegringo on April 25, 2013 at 7:18 PM

.
I assure you I am laughing behind my facepalm. ;)

Daemonocracy on April 25, 2013 at 10:25 PM

.
Dittos, what Daemon’ said (what else can ya’ say?).

listens2glenn on April 26, 2013 at 1:08 AM

where do I sign up ?

rik on April 25, 2013 at 8:13 PM

.
For which role? One of those activities requires a lot of training and attention to detail.

ExpressoBold on April 26, 2013 at 6:32 AM

My suggestion for a name: The Barney Fife of the month.

Odysseus on April 26, 2013 at 8:28 AM

Americaland needs more police (and tax-payer funding) to crack down on so-called “victimless crimes”.

Jeddite on April 26, 2013 at 8:56 AM

Dear President Obama,

Legalize prostitution, along with pot.

Sincerely,
Cop of 12 years and a supervisor.

RedNewEnglander on April 25, 2013 at 8:11 PM

If we legalize murder, rape, and armed robbery/theft, we can wipe out crime altogether.

What’s your point?

Maddie on April 26, 2013 at 9:09 AM

libfreeordie on April 25, 2013 at 5:53 PM

Reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit, is it?

Yup. Count me among those who want to see the law enforced.

Stoic Patriot on April 25, 2013 at 7:00 PM

Ditto. But you have to wonder about priorities here. Based on the excerpt, he sought out this particular offender. That seems rather focused for a vice sting, and risks an entrapment defense. You worry about the one-off vice stuff once you have the dealers and gang-bangers and bank robbers locked away. I will agree with the headline: don’t they have better things to do with their time?

GWB on April 26, 2013 at 10:19 AM

This is a bigger problem than just this.These police feel they are above the law. They can break the law like this guy did as long as they arrest someone. I like to say I support law enforcement and I do, but for all the good they do, they are still a bunch of criminals and liars sanctioned by the govt. and the supreme court. This has happened many times in history and never with a positive outcome

Redglen on April 26, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Legalize prostitution, along with pot.

Sincerely,
Cop of 12 years and a supervisor.

why not cocaine or every other illicy drug? not trying to be a troll, just curious as to why just pot should be made legal

ChunkyLover on April 26, 2013 at 12:25 PM

If there are unsolved thefts, rapes, and murders cops should spend their time hunting the more dangerous criminals.

Slowburn on April 26, 2013 at 12:50 AM

In criminology there is a school of thought that in order to prevent the more serious crimes from happening in the first place, you must aggressively police the smaller crimes where many criminals get their start. In other words, crime needs to be fiercely combated on every level as if it were disease. Rudy Giuliani believed this.

If these “crimes” truly are as petty and insignificant as Reason thinks, then they should not be considered crimes.

Daemonocracy on April 26, 2013 at 12:28 PM

I like to say I support law enforcement and I do

Redglen on April 26, 2013 at 12:15 PM

I support law enforcement. I don’t support everyone “in” law enforcement.

In criminology there is a school of thought that in order to prevent the more serious crimes from happening in the first place, you must aggressively police the smaller crimes where many criminals get their start. In other words, crime needs to be fiercely combated on every level as if it were disease. Rudy Giuliani believed this.

Daemonocracy on April 26, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Agree. But, generally speaking, that view assumes they are enforced across a broad front, not one cop singling out one ‘lady’, and pursuing her arrest. It involves making sure there are no “red light districts” rather than no one engages in prostitution, anywhere (until the big stuff gets taken care of, anyway). This just seems like an overly focused investigation.

GWB on April 26, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Dear President Obama,

Legalize prostitution, along with pot.

Sincerely,
Cop of 12 years and a supervisor.

RedNewEnglander on April 25, 2013 at 8:11 PM

If we legalize murder, rape, and armed robbery/theft, we can wipe out crime altogether.

What’s your point?

Maddie on April 26, 2013 at 9:09 AM

It’s not about wiping out crime, it’s about freedom for adults to do as they please provided it harms nobody else.

If you can drink a fifth of Vodka in your home, you should be able to spark up a bone in your house, too.

If you’re an adult and you want to get a service from another adult via paying for that service, you should be able to.

Again, it’s all about individual freedom and bringing no harm to anyone other than yourself (potentially, anyhow).

RedNewEnglander on April 26, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Legalize prostitution, along with pot.

Sincerely,
Cop of 12 years and a supervisor.

why not cocaine or every other illicy drug? not trying to be a troll, just curious as to why just pot should be made legal

ChunkyLover on April 26, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Pot is generally not regarded as being physiologically addictive. Generally, any drug which is not clearly physiologically addictive. I’m probably fine with legalizing. Also, overdosing on pot would really take a concerted effort on the part of the user, making it safe enough for recreational use by novices.

RedNewEnglander on April 26, 2013 at 1:10 PM