Ethan A. Huff,
Long gone are the days of common-sense courtesy when the average police officer actually took the time to consider the unique nature of minor law violations, and use his or her best judgment to decide whether a warning or a citation was most appropriate. New York City police officers recently issued tickets and court summons to two women who decided to sit for a few moments on a bench at a Brooklyn playground and eat a few doughnuts — all because they were illegally unaccompanied by a minor at the time.
The unassuming women, who had just purchased doughnuts from a small doughnut shop across the street from the park, which had limited indoor seating, decided to walk across the street and eat their doughnuts on an available playground bench. Having overlooked a park rules sign that apparently said, in very small print, that using the playground without a child present was not allowed, the women were eventually approached by two police officers who asked to see their identification. The officers then notified the women about the park rules sign, and proceeded to issue them citations, one for each officer’s ticket quota, of course.
“That? I’m supposed to read that?” asked one of the women to the officers about the sign and its tiny print, excess wording, and lack of readability. She then asked the officer if he believed fining them for innocently eating doughnuts on a bench was really helping to improve community safety, or that it met the intent of the law in the first place, upon which he replied coldly, “I don’t believe anything.”
The two women proceeded to try to reason with the cops, but their efforts were fruitless. The officers were going to issue the women tickets no matter what, and no amount of trying to reason with them was going to change that. And so it goes in the new American police state, where public servants are increasingly assuming the role of public harassers and tyrannizers. Yes, technically the women were in violation of the park rules, but a simple courtesy warning would have sufficed in light of the circumstances.
The citations explain that the women must appear in court, or else a warrant will be issued for their arrest. The citations do not, however, contain any information about how to contact the court, or even how much money they must pay for their fine. And considering that one woman was visiting from out of town, and the other will be living abroad for the summer, they now have to try to figure out how best to handle the situation. And according to gothamist.com, the officers who issued them the tickets had no idea about contact or fine information, either.
Sources for this story include: