By Arlene Jones
There's an old saying about the "squeaky wheel getting the oil." In days of old, that saying meant those who complained the loudest got the results. It also meant those complaining had a legitimate source of grievance. Fast forward to today and everyone who comes into contact with the police are attempting to be made the victims regardless of what they've done.
Several weeks ago, three teenagers stole a car in St. Petersburg, Florida. When police noticed that the car was being driven without the headlights on, they attempted to pull the car over. The three occupants, a 16-year-old and two 15-year-olds, chose to flee. The officer didn't give chase but a second squad car spotted the vehicles as it drove wildly into a cemetery (which was a dead-end road but the girls probably didn't know it) where the car promptly left the road and ended up in a pond. All three car thieves drowned in the murky pond water. When it happened, the sheriff explained how his deputies tried to save the girls but the conditions of the water made it impossible.
Days later, a videotape appeared on social media edited and accompanied by a story that accused the deputies of letting the three girls die and disputing the sheriff's account of what took place that night. Worse is that the photos of the three girls accompanying the story appear to be their mugshots. Now the sheriff has been vigorously defending his deputies, even going so far as to release a second video from a different squad car showing two different deputies walking around while carrying their uniforms. While all the questions and finger-pointing has been directed toward the police, nary a soul has said a word about the kind of parents who don't put their foot down after their children are caught the first time.
For me, therein lies the problem. Young people are caught in the commission of a crime, given a second chance and the parents, rather than guide their wayward youth onto the right path, allow the same bad behavior to fester. Now the fault isn't placed on their terrible parenting skills — or the criminality of their young people. Rather the problem and finger-pointing is all at law enforcement because law enforcement is perfect while everyone else is allowed to be horrifically imperfect. So as in the case of the three girls, it now becomes all the deputies' fault. No one sees anything but the uniform and the belief that the cops should be superheroes, risking their lives beyond what they do on a daily basis to a thankless population.
The squeaky wheel began to make noise, but that noise was one-sided, biased and totally without reason or logic, all against the deputies. Others who weren't even there felt the police should have further risked their own life to save the three young girls whose families cared so little about them that those same families permitted the negative behavior to occur more than once (the girls had seven arrests between them).
Now let's be real. We're talking about a murky pond in a cemetery where alligators could possibly live. The car landing in the pond probably disturbed the muddy bottom and I bet none of those three girls knew how to swim. I wouldn't wish them the death they encountered, but their deaths lie first at their own feet, followed by their parents' responsibility to raise upstanding young people and not car thieves.
I'll end this column with another old saying that sums up the situation perfectly: Live by the sword, die by the sword.
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