Though it seems to have gone unremarked upon – until now – on last week’s Ricochet podcast our own Mollie Hemingway let it be known she had once been an unwilling overnight guest in “the D.C. clinker.” Rob Long expressed the hope that the charge was Drunk and Disorderly, while I preferred to imagine her as having given some Kennedy or other a nice bop on the beezer after he miscalculated her receptiveness to the old Kennedy charm. Alas, she reported she was pinched for the more prosaic offense of driving with a suspended license.
Which got me to wondering about the member of the D.C. gendarmerie who had seen fit to slap the cuffs on a young mother of two and haul her before the bar of justice. In my own police career in Los Angeles, I’ve tried to make what we in the trade call “quality arrests,” i.e. those that serve to remove the most troublesome and dangerous criminals from the community. Not to excuse Mollie for driving with a suspended license, but on a list America’s 400 largest cities, Washington, D.C. comes in at number 22 when it comes to serious crime (PDF). This raises the question of whether some police officer’s time might have been better spent by admonishing Mollie to square away her relationship with the DMV and then going off in search of someone who presented a greater threat to the commonweal than she did.
And this brings me, awkwardly, to the topic of my most recent column at PJ Media, indeed of a few of my recent columns: What to do about people who drive without being properly licensed? California law authorizes – even encourages – police officers to impound for 30 days any car driven by someone whose driver’s license has been suspended or revoked, or who has never been issued a driver’s license. The Los Angeles Police Commission, the civilian body that oversees the LAPD, voted recently to all but eliminate such impounds on the grounds that they are unfair to those L.A. residents who are precluded from obtaining a driver’s license, i.e. illegal immigrants. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has called it an issue of “fairness” for people who need their cars to get to work in the sprawling L.A. area.
So now we have here in Los Angeles a local policy being used to subvert a state law for the purpose of allowing people who should not be here to keep the cars they should not drive so they can get to the jobs they should not have.
Readers, your thoughts?