Thursday, June 30, 2005

Do they have a merit badge for this?

You always hear about the Eagle scouts but the Boy Scout Explorer program was unknown to me until today. It's an interesting program that, according to this New Jersey's troop's website, has been in existence since 1935. It appears to have started to provide a venue for 14 to 20 year olds to gain familiarity with military careers in the Navy and Air Force. That has since been expanded to include law enforcement with many police departments sponsoring a troop.

The police in Easton took their scouts too far into the field using at least two Explorers as undercover snitches at the local high school. Even worse, they didn't tell the police chief of the town the school is located in, or the children's parents. Pretty bizarre idea for a "community service" project don't you think?

The cops that did it have been suspended and were caught by fellow officers who were apparently appalled by the scheme and secretly obtained evidence against them. That's the good news. The bad news is that in defense of endangering these minors - and they solicited the kids to be snitches - one of the cops remarks,
"We didn't say 'You're a kid, go away, we need to talk to your parents.' That's not going to happen."

Even more chilling was this remark made by another officer.
"This is something we do on a daily basis," said Lt. Richard Doyle. "We approached juveniles on the playground seeking information on illegal activities and we don't contact their parents."

So in other words, at any given moment your child could be subjected to a police interrogation in the schoolyard, on any matter, without your knowledge or consent. As if this couldn't be traumatic for a young person. Maybe the police department doesn't have a problem with that, but I certainly do. This is not the sort of "police work" I expect or desire my tax dollars to support.

There are bigger crimes in any town. Leave our kids alone.

[hat tip to JackL]


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