Thursday, December 22, 2005

Learning From Car Chases

MSNBC’s nightly news program Countdown with Keith Olbermann regularly features real car chase video where the police attempt to stop a crook making a get-away (or if they weren’t a crook before, they are now for fleeing from police in a vehicle). Countdown has been doing this all year and keeping score. So far, it’s Police 50, Bad Guys 0. In other words, the police always get the people trying to elude capture. At least the ones for which MSNBC has video.

While watching these videos, you can’t help but wonder what these people taking flight from the law are thinking. Don’t they KNOW they’re going to get caught? We know it; we see t night after night on Keith’s show.

I bring this up to highlight what I think is a major flaw in law enforcement in our land. I’m no criminologist but it occurs to me we need to make it clear to everyone that if you turn to crime, you will almost certainly get caught. I don’t think criminals are deterred by stiffer penalties because they simply do not believe they are going to get busted in the first place. They assume they are going to get away with whatever crime they are committing. Hey don’t care if the penalty is a small fine or the death, it doesn’t matter, they aren’t (in their mind) going to get caught.

So it makes sense to me that law enforcement should play-up the part where criminals do usually get caught and it will happen to you should you break the law. For instance, much of the video on Olberman’s show is provided by the police. I think this is smart since it gets the point across that there’s little reason to flee, you’re going to get caught anyway.

I know, most would-be fleers probably aren’t getting a steady diet of cable TV news but I think the broader point is education, perhaps aimed at kids in school. The message needs to get out that you aren’t invincible and you likely will be caught when committing a crime. I’m not sure what the actual stats are but as any politician can tell you, manipulating statistics to make your point isn’t all that hard to do. That would go a lot farther in giving potential criminals pause than ever-increasing penalties.

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