Topless Woman Police Entrapment Sting
Columbus, Ohio police are using hot, topless women to seduce men into exposing themselves in public so that they can arrest them.
Robin Garrison, an off-duty 42-year-old firefighter, was walking in Berliner Park in Columbus, Ohio, in May when he saw a woman sunbathing topless under a tree. He approached her and they started talking and getting comfortable, the woman smiling and resting her foot on his shoulder at one point.
Eventually, she asked to see Garrison’s penis; he unzipped his pants and complied.
Seconds later, undercover police officers pulled up in a van and arrested Garrison; he was later charged with public indecency, a misdemeanor, based on video footage taken by cops who were targeting men having sex or masturbating in the park. While topless sunbathing is legal in the city’s parks, exposing more than that is against the law.
The case is just one of the more extreme examples of police stings aimed at luring people into committing crimes, a tactic that has resulted in hundreds of arrests, many convictions and plenty of controversy. Law enforcement officials say that such sting operations are an extremely effective means of lowering crime rates and stopping the criminally minded before they commit worse offenses. […] But such operations veer dangerously close to entrapment, say lawyers, civil libertarians and defendants who’ve been caught in sting operations.
Patterico guest poster DRJ presents a lawyerly explanation for why this isn’t technically “entrapment.” Further, he “like[s] the policy of stopping small crime before it becomes big crime.”
Ed Morrissey argues, though, that this pretty clearly crosses a line.
Rounding up perverts who masturbate in public places is a good use of police resources and allows people to use community assets as intended. Having topless women laying out in the open and caressing men who act on understandable signals of sexual openness turns these places into precisely what they’re hoping to avoid.
Where’s the evidence that Garrison, absent very active enticement by a hot, topless undercover cop, was likely to commit any crime whatsoever?
It’s one thing to have a female officer pose as a prostitute on a corner where solicitation is known to occur and wait for prospective “clients” to proposition them. Or for a plain clothes detective to pose as a drug buyer to gain evidence against a known drug dealer. Or, heck, to have cops sit in known gay solicitation hangouts, tapping their feet in case Larry Craig drops by.
In this case, though, we likely merely caught a lonely guy who exhibited poor judgment when given an opportunity that I suspect he didn’t get very often. Why are we using police resources for this?
UPDATE: According to the Columbus Dispatch‘s account of the story (via an update to and comments in DRJ’s piece, linked above) the woman was not a police officer, making entrapment a harder sell. At the same time, however, she was apparently attracting — and happily encouraging — quite a bit of lewd attention:
Detective Dick Elias said vice officers had set up the video because they were targeting men who were having sex or masturbating in the park — not men who had come to see her.
The woman had been sunbathing topless near the front of the park for days, he said, and “had become a spectacle” with men driving by to watch.
It is legal for women to be topless in Columbus.
So Elias asked the woman to move to the rear of the park, which she did. But men still drove by to see her. Another man, whose name wasn’t mentioned, was charged the same afternoon as Garrison for exposing himself to the woman.
Essentially, this was the equivalent of a speed trap: A situation existed where lawbreaking was quite likely and the police were there hoping to make arrests.
While I’m sympathetic to the community’s interest in not having parks become havens for lewd activity, I’m still dubious of this particular use of police resources. Indeed, it would seem that the city of Columbus would be far better off not encouraging women to sit around the park half naked.