In New York City, police are putting out decoy purses and wallets, and then arresting people who pick up the objects and fail to immediately give them to a cop.
In Rancho Cordova, California, police are pulling over law-abiding motorists in order to surprise them with $5 Starbucks gift cards, supposedly in order to “promote the holiday spirit and enhance goodwill between the traffic unit and the motoring public.”
Who thinks this stuff up? Are they retarded? Do we have a nationwide problem recruiting people of normal intelligence for police work?
I don’t know about you, but if I found a wallet on the sidewalk, the first thing to occur to me would probably not be to pester a scary-looking, armed-to-the-teeth New York cop about it. I have in fact found valuables, such as wallets and phones, and I’ve generally managed to return them to their proper owners. I’m appalled to discover that this behavior will now get me arrested in my home town. (Not that the NYPD’s little program has any valid basis in law. As a judge in Brooklyn noted, New Yorkers actually have ten days to return found property, and there’s no requirement that it be turned over to a police officer. Will this fact affect anything? Gosh, interesting question. Since evidently Presidents and Vice-Presidents no longer have to worry about silly “laws,” I can’t see why police will.)
As for Rancho Cordova, sure, good idea, what could possibly go wrong? I can’t wait for the first time one of these jolly holiday pull-overs results in a driver panicking, a scared cop who thinks someone’s reaching for a weapon, shots fired, and a passerby suddenly dead. Does Starbucks know about this little tie-in? Are they on board for it?
On the Boing Boing thread about Rancho Cordova, one commenter observed that it’s “like the bully ruffling your hair at break.” Quite right. It’s the kind of country we’re becoming. We’ve created a culture in which the stupid are consistently triumphant, and the rest of us just keep our heads down.