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Fit the punishment to the age of offender

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Under most circumstances, I would find some level of humor in kids stealing a police car and playing policemen by pulling drivers over to check their licenses, etc. Well, to be real honest, no it's not something that is humorous; it's just downright stupid.

But when one of those kids happens to be the son of the police chief, well that makes for a more interesting story. And that is what happened in Ballwin this week.

The son of the Ballwin police chief - along with a friend - decided it would be fun to steal Dad's unmarked police car and pull over motorists. They used the car's siren and lights to pull over motorists. And they were even dressed in uniform-like outfits complete with a gun belt and air pistol that resembled a .40 caliber Glock pistol.

Sure enough, they pulled over an off-duty detective and the fun ended quickly. The detective checked the license plate, did a little homework and soon the duo were nabbed for their mischief. They are expected to be charged with misdemeanor counts of impersonating a police officer.

The story should normally end there. But as I read deeper into the story, I found one item of interest.

A police spokesman said that cops expect the worst and hope for the best during police stops. So, he said, the kids were actually lucky. "I don't think that went through these youngsters' heads," he added.

Wait just a minute! The chief's son is a 23-year-old man. He's no "youngster" and this was no silly prank. This was unbridled stupidity by a man clearly old enough to know better. Who in the world would call this man a "youngster" out for a joyride?

Under most circumstances, as I said earlier, this would be a tiny humor article in a local paper. But this guy is 23-years-old and, if he didn't know better, he has issues much more complex than borrowing a police cruiser.

The son's friend was 18, so maybe he gets a little leniency. But a 23-year-old is no "youngster" and his punishment should fit not only the crime but the age and theoretically the maturity that comes with that age.



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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen