Thursday, December 4, 2008

Seen: LAPD and Teens

As I biked down 30th tonight, I came across six teenage boys being detained by four police officers between Broadway and Main. The officers had them against the chain-link fence, some of them cuffed. One of the officers noticed me lingering and observing and asked me if I needed something in a less-than friendly tone, and asked "do you know them?" I guess it is natural for LAPD to be on the defensive, especially when approached by a small young woman on bicycle at 8PM.

I told her that I didn't know the kids and I was just curious as to what was going on, why they were being detained, and she seemed reluctant to tell me. The other officers came up to us and one of them asked "What, are you a reporter?" To which I honestly replied "No, I've lived in this area for a while and I'm just wondering what was happening." Finally, an officer told me that they had been caught drinking on the school campus, two of them didn't have identification, and one might have a warrant out, and the rest were okay. And he told me with a smile.

I know that underage drinking is a serious offense, and that it is probably procedure, but I can't help feeling like it was a bit excessive to have them up against the fence like that. In a different neighborhood, underage drinkers may have just been escorted home instead of being treated as criminals already.

It's a much more complicated issue than that, with many other circumstances and facts to consider. This is a part of living in an urban area in this era, I suppose: procedure and code preclude common sense and independent judgment, and this can work both ways. Maybe even with my preference for city life, I still have some small-town sensibilities.

1 comment:

  1. Good for you for stopping! I don't know why the LAPD has a chip on their shoulders. Maybe that is part of the requirements of becoming a Police Officer. Instead of encouraging community and eyes on the street, they encourage people to look away and stay out of the way.