I asked both Superintendent King and Chief Beckner if I could talk to them about the response to the recent streaking incident. No surprise, not even a reply of "no" from Chris King. (Why is it every time BVSD screws up - they clam up?)
But kudos to Mark Beckner who did make time to talk to me. Short conversation but interesting.
His primary point on the "crime" of streaking is that it's like running a red light (his example), they won't catch all cases of it, and if 100 people all decide to do it at the same time, they don't have the resources to catch everyone even if it occurs right in front of them, but they will catch those they have the resources & opportunity to get.
Fair enough. But then we got in to the specifics of the recent naked bicycle ride, tonight's naked pumpkin run, and students streaking. They did not arrest any of the naked bicycle riders because "there were too many." At the pumpkin run tonight he said if it was just 1 or 2, then they probably would be arrested. If there were lots then he said it depended on the situation but was not willing to say anyone would be arrested if it was a large group.
So here's where it gets interesting. I asked what would happen if 40 or 50 students streaked the football game. And his reply was they would probably only be able to catch and arrest 5 or 6 of them. When I asked why in that case they would arrest 5 or 6 but did not do so for the naked bicycle ride and probably would not for the naked pumpkin run - he said "because they are different." Yet when I pressed him for what was different, he was not able to give me anything specific.
Here's my theory - the only difference is that in one case it's students and in the other it's adults. It's a double standard, it may even be subconscious, but unless Chief Beckner can give us a clear credible explanation about how they are different and why that difference deserves the different approach - I think we should assume it's discrimination.
On a related note, I pointed out that the "crime" of streaking carries with it the possibility of being labeled a sex offender. Yet the police view it as a crime to enforce as resources allow. I asked him if he could think of any other crime where you can be labeled a sex offender, yet the police view it as enforce it only if resources are available. He couldn't think of any other.
Really screwed up priorities
Finally I asked him what was being done about the person on the Boulder High side that was shooting paintballs at the Fairview side and came within 2 inches of blinding a girl in one eye. He was not aware that it even occurred. Not did Chief Beckner ask for information so he could have an officer follow up on it. So streaking, they're arresting. Shooting someone in the face with a paintball gun - not interested.
So what should we do?
First, I think our City Council should ask Chief Beckner to speak to this difference in enforcement. It is a primary job of the council to demand of our Police that they treat all of our citizens equally. We need to insure that our High School students are not second class citizens in the eyes of the law.
Second, I think the City Council should ask Chief Beckner why he has no interest in someone being shot in the face with a paintball gun. Or more to the point, how these different crimes stack up in importance to the police. Because my child was in the Fairview stands and I don't care if she sees a streaker - but I do care if she is blinded by someone randomly shooting her in the face with a paintball.
Third, I think the City prosecutor and D.A. need to make clear that streaking, in the forms we have seen occur recently, will never be treated as calling for labeling the participants as sexual offenders. To have that hanging over their heads, even with a very low probability, is not right. Especially if the prosecutor uses that possibility to get the prankster to agree to whatever plea bargain they want.
Fourth, BVSD and the Boulder Police need to get a life. A streaker at a High School football game is not a crime, it's a prank. Call in their parents, lecture them, suspend them for a couple of days. But don't involve the police.
None of the above is a giant issue (unless a kid gets blinded by a paintball next time). But it all does impact the quality of government we have here in Boulder. And it does impact the kids view of authority, which is never high to start with. It should be addressed.