April 09, 2004
OK, This Is Extreme
While I continue to maintain the legitimacy of charging a 15-year-old with dissemination of child pornography that depicts herself, I admit that the police went too far in this case:
A 9-year-old girl accused of stealing a rabbit and $10 from a neighbor's home was arrested, handcuffed and questioned at a police station.
A Pasco County sheriff's deputy found the black-and-white rabbit, named Oreo, hopping around in the girl's living room, according to the arrest report. She was read her rights and taken away in the back of a patrol car.
The girl began to cry during questioning Tuesday. She admitted taking the rabbit belonging to another child, but denied taking two $5 bills and some change, according to reports.
I have a bunny myself, and I would be upset if she was stolen, but handcuffing a child for such a crime is absurd. As the friend who forwarded me the story pointed out, "If you ever have any enemies, you can threaten to turn them into the police for this." I suspect that's pretty much what happened in this case.
Sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll defended the arrest, and said if the victim of a crime wants an arrest, deputies are required to act if there is enough evidence.
Lori Ventura, the mother of the child who owns the rabbit, said the girl has been involved in other incidents and needs help.
In other words, these kids have been squabbling, the 9-year-old took the rabbit and the mother of the rabbit-owner decided to teach her a lesson by having her arrested. Law enforcement as revenge tool -- nice.
The deputy could have taken a report and referred the charges to the state attorney, said Pasco-Pinellas Public Defender Bob Dillinger.
The girl was released to her mother from a juvenile assessment center about an hour after her arrest, which she said was scary. She also didn't like the deputy.
"He put one handcuff on me really tight," she said Thursday. In the patrol car, "He just stared at me in the mirror."
This part troubles me. Did they question the little girl without a parent or guardian present?
Bunny-napping is indeed a heinous act, but perhaps the police officers of New Port Richey, FL should use better judgment in the future.
April 9, 2004 12:38 PM
I don't see the officers' actions the same way you do.
Think of it this way: do you really think that this little girl will EVER steal anything again? Sometimes being put through a "scary" experience like that can alter the course of a child's entire life. Theft is a serious crime, bunny or not, and if she's done it before it's obvious that her parents are either in denial or don't care.
Given the comment from the complainant that the girl needs help, I wonder if the police were doing some sort of mandatory child abuse/delinquency screening. Further, the cuffs may have been necessary to corral a belligerent and rambunctious child - I don't know that the cops have other equipment that would have worked better.
Really, though, this seems like a story that could go either way. Not enough information...
I'm with UCL and Craig on this. The arrest will probably have a huge deterrant effect, and if not, then serious psychological help is needed. As long as they didn't put her in a holding cell, then I'll defend the sheriff here.
A. Hamilton, did you even read my post before calling me "literally crazy"? You certainly didn't rebut the main point I made. I suppose that is understandable - after all, why wade through three whole posts before logging in with a rebuttal that barely addresses those you insult?
I know my post is long, but before responding so defensively you might have had a look at it. The comment you quote is in the first line; more than a dozen more follow.
To respond to your accusation that my initial post didn't rebut your points, I quote here the full text of your post:
"Given the comment from the complainant that the girl needs help, I wonder if the police were doing some sort of mandatory child abuse/delinquency screening. Further, the cuffs may have been necessary to corral a belligerent and rambunctious child - I don't know that the cops have other equipment that would have worked better."
(1) My analysis responds to your point that the police may have been doing "mandatory child abuse . . . screening" by noting that "it's far from clear that a reasonable person would think it necessary or efficient to invest police resources in handcuffing and booking a nine-year-old child." My response to your argument is that, to the extent "screening" is necessary here, handcuffing and booking the child is hardly necessary to serve the ends of that screening.
(2) I respond to your argument that "the cuffs may have been necessary to corral a belligerent and rambunctious child" by pointing out that "doing all of this without the child's parents present is unnecessary to achieve the desired effect," including both deterrent effects and the effect of "corral[ling]" the child. Put another way, my response is that the child could have just as easily been deterred or corralled by less intrusive means -- and that both a reasonable person and the officer and question almost certainly would know that.
I hate to put it so sharply, Craig, but to respond to my analysis by pointing out that I failed to rebut your point implies that your point was sufficiently insightful to demand direct rebuttal. In fact, it was derivative of the arguments made by the other two posters, which is why my analysis applies equally to your and theirs.
In the future, in my view a much more interesting response would be actually to offer a new insight about the case in light of the analysis provided my others here. "You didn't pay enough attention to my point," even in a forum like this, just doesn't do much analytical work.
Just a thought.