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RE: Police and Law Enforcement in Ketchikan
By Stacey Stone


October 12, 2006

Laws exist in society for a reason; they promote both safety and social order. If someone chooses to violate a law, that is their own choice. I know this may come as a shock to some of you, especially you Ms. Newlun, but actions sometimes come with consequences. These consequences may get expensive, but that is so one may contemplate the possibility of not further breaking the law. Punishments and damages serve two purposes, specific and general deterrence. Maybe at some point if a person's hard earned money is going down the drain, that person will begin to understand that there is a more effective use of that money. The strength of the law and the police is not what is keeping your son from going to college, but rather it is his poor, misguided judgment.

I am proud that Ketchikan has no tolerance for minors consuming or possessing alcohol. IT IS AGAINST THE LAW! There is no reason to have any tolerance for a minor in this instance. If a person chooses to drink underage, then yes they should be punished. Is it better to set a poor precedent of letting inappropriate and unlawful actions go unpunished? No, I would say that is a horrible thing to do to a minor. Records are sealed after the age of 18, but that does not mean they drop off the earth. The best way to not have to worry about this problem is to know the law and follow it, and then a young person won't have a record. And yes, even though you don't believe it is possible to resist, the 18 years I spent growing up in Ketchikan, not once did I give in to peer pressure by consuming alcohol.

It is unfortunate that you did not understand the Drug Free Schools Act, since it is a FEDERAL LAW! Yes, this means that a child anywhere, in any city in this country will also be charged with a felony if they choose to carry a drug such as marijuana onto school grounds.

Being a single parent is not what puts a child at risk. Poor parenting is what puts a child at risk. The greatest breakdown in our society comes from the family. Parents need to hold their kids responsible, rather than enable their irresponsible behavior. They should always know where their children are, who they are with, and what it is they are participating in.

The police exist to protect society. I am sure that they have far better things to do on a Friday night than target your son. I am sorry Ms. Newlun, but the reason your son continually gets arrested is not because of the top-notch police force we are lucky to have in Ketchikan, but rather because he continually chooses to break the law.

As far as appealing to the community for a better solution, I think you should return to the top of your letter and reread what you yourself have written. Your son has been given opportunities to do public service, attend classes on drinking, computer tests, and counseling. I am sure all of these occurred before he was put in jail. You should thank your lucky stars that these types of alternatives and programs are available, because in many instances they are not, and the only option is juvenile detention.

As far as coming up with a solution, it is not the burden of the police to correct a person's behavior. If you believe we have so many resources available now, then help your son with something so he is not such a detriment to society. Police records are appropriate; because unfortunately sometimes behavior has a way of repeating if a person is not reigned in. There are positive ways for the youth of our community to have their voices heard, and I am sorry but police regards are not suppressing that. What does suppress voices are actions, because as we all know too well, actions speak louder than words.

Jail time provides a person to be extracted from society, since they can't follow laws and function normally in society. Being a counselor, I thought you would be well-aware of that fact. And it is important to remember that our permanent fund is a privilege not a right, so there is no reason that if someone goes to jail it shouldn't be taken away. The officers at the jail do a commendable job, one that gets little thanks. I worked in a prison for the last three years while attending school in Washington State. Every move of a corrections officer is scrutinized, so I am sure that if your son was "taken down" that he probably deserved it. I am sure that this story came as a verbal account from your son, you mentioned before that he was "slightly" intoxicated from the night before, so I believe it is quite possible that he didn't quite have his facts straight.

If the police were called for noise, they are allowed to investigate. They are allowed to preserve the peace in our society, for that is one of their major functions. In that instance the only way that they are allowed into a residence is if a person physically allows them to come in or someone inside screams for help. However, once they are granted access, they have full access. I am proud that they checked everyone's identification. That means they are doing their job of trying to protect the minors in our community.

Too many people in today's society allow themselves and their children to neglect responsibility. Ms. Newlun, it is time people such as yourself and your son start taking responsibility for your actions. It is not the law that is the problem; it is the person breaking the law. I can only hope that your son is able break this cycle of blame and irresponsibility and one day become a functioning member of our society.

Stacey Stone
Spokane, WA

Received October 12, 2006 - Published October 12, 2006

About: "I was born and raised in Ketchikan. I am now a first-year law student at Gonzaga University."



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