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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Stopping DWI's through Facebook?

Huntington Beach, California, my former stomping grounds, is in the news today. Citing a method to crime prevention, the Huntington Beach City Council has proposed an ordinance that would post mug shots of people who have been arrested for DWI. I don't really see the logic in this. First, these people have only been arrested,  not convicted of a DWI offense. I'm not sure how the Huntington Beach City Council reconciles the constitutional presumption that everyone arrested of a crime is presumed innocent. DWI cases are rejected for insufficient evidence or found not guilty at trial regularly. I spent 2 1/2 of my 6 years as a Deputy District Attorney in Orange County handling Huntington Beach cases. I went on ride alongs with police officers from Huntington Beach, flew in their department helicopter, filed their cases, took their cases to trial. I am familiar with the Department. I liked working with the Department. HBPD is not embracing the idea. The Department has only posted a few booking photos from very egregious cases where the department believed the public was at risk. Police spokesman Lt. Reinhart stated "Law enforcement is not about public shaming."

While I agree that a Facebook page can be a effective tool for a Police Department to reach the public with missing persons or wanted suspects information, I question how the council believes this will prevent crime. I'm not sure the person who is considering getting into a car after drinking alcohol will make the decision to call a cab because of a Huntington Beach Facebook page. If preventing crime was only that simple....

On a side note, had to include a picture of the beach.. Here is a link to the Huntington Beach webcam if you want to escape for a moment. 

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