Sunday, July 06, 2008

Discretion of a Rock

Throughout my criminal justice education both in the civilian world as well as the military side, it has always been stressed that in order for police to not only be effective but to maintain positive relations, especially with consideration for the "Community Policing" model, the use of discretion is paramount. When my MPBOLC class was addressed by the Assistant Commandant of the MP Corps, he continually reinforced the principle of "The spirit of the law; not the letter of the law." To put this in context, allow me to elaborate. At a particular four-way stop sign intersection on the post, there are thick hedges on the left & right sides of one of the approach roads. As a result, a certain driver approaching the intersection did not bring his vehicle to a complete stop until he was on the other side of the hedges, by no means into the intersection, but far enough so he could now see the oncoming traffic. To the dismay of that driver, an overzealous young Military Police officer (PFC) had set up across from the intersection behind another series of hedges where he could overwatch the intersection. After observing the driver "blow" the stop sign, the soldier initiated a traffic stop. Unfortunately, the driver was either the Commandant (BG) of the MP Corps or the Asst. Cmdt of the MP Corps. The MP Regimental Sergeant Major was also pulled over by this very same MP at the very same intersection. For my point, according to the letter of the law, yes, both drivers did not come to a complete stop prior to crossing the line of the stop sign thereby, failing to stop. However, the spirit of the law was by no means broken. The drivers stopped once at a location where they could observe the intersection & move once it was safe as opposed to stopping twice with the first stop being only due to the location of the sign itself.

Now that I have explained spirit of the law versus letter of the law, let me get to my main point for today. The Transportation Safety Administration is staffed mostly by blithering idiots. Today I had my shower gel & shaving cream seized. The primary officer in contact also attempted to seize my deodorant and toothpaste but once a more reasonable officer approached (interestingly enough, the same one that checked my ID & boarding pass), talked her into allowing me to keep my toothpaste, since there was very little remaining inside of it. I was proud of her (primary officer) for figuring out all on her own that was indeed allowed to have my deodorant. Had I not had about 25 minutes to get to my plane before departure, we would have had a chat at the security checkpoint this morning. The primary officer, though hesitant & still not sure "what was inside", complied. Wow. Call me crazy, by I have this wild idea that its probably the Crest Minty Fresh toothpaste inside of it just like the tube says. Here's the real kicker - THEY DIDN'T TAKE MY FOUR ZIP TIES that I had prepped in my bag! And I'm not talking the little thin ones people use to hold the wires under and behind their desks together with; I mean the thick white military style ones that we use to detain people in the "zip tie" phase of the "zip tie & choke slam" exercise. By prepped, the ends were inserted into the locking clamp to facilitate quicker apprehension. Letter of the law: Yes, take my shower gel & and my shaving cream. According to the spirit of the law however, you probably don't need to seize the property of a Military Police Lieutenant; he's probably trustworthy. I'll also refrain from the point that had we gotten into a foot pursuit, I could have run back to the hotel I spent the night in before they made it to the end of the airport terminal.

Common Sense is a precious & endangered resource. Don't lose yours.


"Stop resisting!"