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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Tuesday, January 07, 2003
1:29 PM

Teaching Us To Hate the Police... This story about Fairfax County, Va. cops entering bars to arrest allegedly drunk patrons--call it pre-emption--was blogged by InstaGuy and apparently his source, the Fairfax Station Times, broke it Dec. 31, although today's Washington Times catch-up doesn't credit anyone (I think World Net Daily did, but I can't find the link now.). From the Washington Times:

Lt. Bennett said the program resulted in a dozen arrests, including four as the bar patrons were heading to their cars. He said the law gives officers the discretion to issue a citation simply "if a person appears drunk in public" but that arrests are made only in the "most severe cases." "These were the most severe cases," he said. "People who were just falling off their stools, stumbling down stairs."

Mr. Slone said that wasn't true. "They weren't bothering anybody. They were just sitting at the bar," he said. "It was karaoke night. They were singing songs."

This is a really bad idea. I wonder if police departments believe they need the cooperation and active support of the public. From the Fairfax Station Times:

Jimmy Cirrito, who owns and runs Jimmy's Old Town Tavern, said 10 or so officers who showed up in SWAT-like garb were intimidating and unnecessary. He also noted that police seemed to be tagging people at random, despite police telling bar owners they had undercover officers in the bar, calling in and giving descriptions of particular individuals.

"They tapped one lady on the shoulder--who was on her first drink and had just eaten dinner--to take her out on the sidewalk and give her a sobriety test," Cirrito said. "They told her she fit the description of a woman they had complaints about, and that they heard she was dancing topless."

Cirrito said the woman passed the sobriety test and was allowed to return to the bar, but, soon after, police pulled another woman outside who had arrived shortly before police came into Jimmy's Old Town Tavern.

What's the problem with the Fairfax County police? Too much free time? Bad leadership? Someone was going to miss a performance-review checkbox on "initiative?"

UPDATE: Apparently it was a sister publication, the Reston Times, that broke the story.

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