My son is 17 and walks home from Shasta High School, burdened by a heavy student backpack while traversing through downtown, taking Court Street and heading towards Gold Street where his dad’s house is in the neighborhood behind the liquor store.
If you’ve ever walked this route, you may have encountered a number of transients, often addled by some type of substance. As part of this journey, my son crossed the railroad tracks just before he headed towards the neighborhood – not far from where a homeless encampment is visible down the embankment.
A siren whirred and an angry cop approached my son to give him a tearing into for illegally crossing the tracks.
Now – I don’t know how many of you are aware that this activity is illegal – I wasn’t until I looked it up. This officer continued to write up a ticket while my son glanced in the direction of a site where public intoxication and drug use, public defecation and occasional brawls occur – all unnoticed while the officer gave a verbal dressing down to a weary high schooler on his way home.
So, here’s my point: Why not find a better way to teach a young person the error of their ways – clearly there was no criminal intent – and provide a teaching moment? What might happen if this were the approach? Might not our youth be more respectful of law enforcement? More aware of the laws? More inclined to share their knowledge with others?
When RPD chooses to handle situations like this in this manner – aggressive and angry towards someone who is ignorant of any infraction, particularly in light of the more apparent crimes taking place nearby, RPD looses it’s opportunity to be a positive influence in our community. RPD looses the faith of their citizens and the opportunity to empower us all.
Leah Haws, Redding
PS – For those of you who might respond that a cop can’t know the difference between a teenager and a delinquent, please don’t bother, as that assessment in and of itself is part of the problem.