Monday, July 20, 2009

The spray from the spray enforcement

Whenever you use someone to catch someone else in a crime, there's always the accusation of entrapment that can be floated. When the person you are using is a minor, things are potentially more troubling. The Riverside County Sheriff's Department was sensitive to the latter item in this recent press release:

As a result of numerous and ongoing complaints regarding graffiti, deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Jurupa Valley Station in conjunction with County Code Enforcement Officers conducted directed enforcement targeting locations that sell spray paint.

A minor under the age of 18 years old was sent into various locations throughout the Jurupa Valley area, under constant supervision...

Note the "under constant supervision" part. Let's continue.

to purchase spray paint. If the cashier sold the spray paint to the minor, they were issued a citation for selling spray paint to a minor.

But wait - there's more! Because if someone has committed one crime, then they most likely have committed others.

After the decoy left the premises, County Code Enforcement Officers entered the location to look for other violations regarding the proper storage of the paint and signs indicating the minimum age of 18 years to purchase paint. If the location selling the items was in violation, the business was cited for the violation(s).

Now some believe that this is an entirely proper thing to do, which reminds me of a Mike Royko story that I read years and years ago. When Royko wrote about civil liberties and privacy, he got a call from a person who said that criminals had no right to privacy. Royko, claiming that he needed to document information on people who called in with opinions, asked the caller for identification information, and continued to ask more personal information until the person objected.

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