To the Editor:
To suggest that how an arrest is handled is distinct and separate from whether there should be a village police force is to ignore the reason many desire a small-town police department with more full-time officers in the first place. [For the full story, go online to www.AltamontEnterprise.com for Jan. 24, 2013 “Motorist charged with misdemeanor: APD excessive.” An editorial ran last week, Jan. 31, “Too much of a good thing?”] If the police have the discretion to allow an individual 24 hours to provide proof of insurance or to shackle her, place her car on a tow truck, and deliver her child to protective services then how residents, at least, are treated has a great deal to do with a discussion of the village police and its value to the community.
I suspect Mrs. Kowalski was as concerned about neighbors and acquaintances seeing her being placed in a police car as she was about the variety of effects this event was having on her son. Being in the back of a police car is humiliating enough, and what if she had been shackled, placed in a police car, and her son taken away?
What would you think if you happened to see that scene as you drove home? Would you consider that the offense might be a late car insurance payment that she had already made? Would you tell your friends? What would you think of her if you met her at a village or school function and the only thing you knew of her was that she had been arrested?
The legitimate use of force in a democracy is by the authority of the people and thus should express their values. We have a great opportunity in this little community to speak to each other through village government and through The Enterprise and to bear witness to such events on a small scale.
Thank you to The Enterprise for your comprehensive reporting and the opportunity to express these opinions.
Editor’s note: The New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law makes no mention of police having the discretion to allow 24 hours for a motorist to provide proof of insurance before arresting, it is not an option.
See related story.