"Trying To Deter Pedophiles With The Equivalent Of A Speeding Ticket"

08 Jun

"Trying To Deter Pedophiles With The Equivalent Of A Speeding Ticket"
Two women are ticketed for eating donuts on a bench on a Brooklyn playground while unaccompanied by children. Garth Johnson writes on Gothamist:

Yup, this weekend the police gave two young women in Bed-Stuy summonses for eating doughnuts in a playground while unaccompanied by a minor.

Tickets for being an adult in or around a playground have been popping up fairly frequently lately--see the Inwood chess players--but instead of giving the offending citizens a warning and urging them to leave, the NYPD's M.O. appears to be to hand out a ticket.

From one of the women's statement at the link:

This cop attempted to be sympathetic. He proceeded to tell us that he was trying to be a gentleman by just giving us summonses instead of taking us in for questioning, because that was what "they" wanted him to do. If he just gave us warnings and told us to leave, he would get in trouble for "doing nothing all day." He went on to say that all he did when he was growing up was "do Tae Kwon Do and go to school." "Are you trying to say that we are bad people for sitting on a bench in a park and eating doughnuts?" I asked him, just trying to figure out where he was going with this. "No, no, I'm just saying that I never got in trouble. Sometimes I play basketball," he said, pointing at the courts behind him. Not in that park, he doesn't. Not unless he has a kid strapped to his back at the time.

Finally, we were given our summonses and were free to go. Because we hadn't been drinking alcohol or urinating in public, we do not have the option of pleading guilty by mail. Not that I am planning on pleading guilty. But either way, we have to show up in court or a warrant will be issued for our arrest. My friend does not live in New York and I am out of the country all summer, so this is going to be an ordeal in itself, given that the summons has no information on how to contact the court. Nor do we know how much we owe. Because the cops had no idea about that, either. They were just "doing their jobs," in the most mindless sense of that phrase.

I have three little nephews and I appreciate that keeping children safe is the thinking behind this rule. But this is basically trying to deter pedophiles with the equivalent of a speeding ticket. Meanwhile, in parts of the city with minimal amounts of public green spaces, people are taught that they are being "bad" citizens for sitting on a bench for a few minutes. The regulations are as they are and they were posted, but does the issuing of summonses to people who even the police do not actually believe are posing a danger, with no prior warning, accord with the law's protective intent?