Irvine’s Little Police State
Kevin Drum links an LAT piece on the “charm” of Irvine, California, a “little planned community” that both conforms perfectly to Malvina Reynolds’ “Little Boxes” stereotype – with houses made out of ticky tacky that all look the same — and seems to make everyone who lives there feel safe and happy. And, mostly, it is indeed quite charming. But these passages strike me as a bit creepy, too:
On the street of two-story suburban homes, lined with jacarandas and palms and curbside recycling bins, a father and his 14-year-old son were arguing about water polo practice while he gave his other son a haircut in the garage.
Two police cars were on the scene within minutes.
Miller defused the situation with some gentle words to the father and son, smiling as he stood on the front lawn, looking more the part of mediator than hardened lawman.
The officer quickly typed the police code for “disturbance” in his patrol car’s computer: 415 over son not doing what dad wants. Verbal only. No crime.
Students who come to UC Irvine from urban areas are “blown away by the level of peaceableness that exists here,” said Currie, the criminology professor.
That is not to say serious crimes don’t occur.
But when that rare violent attack or homicide is recorded, the community is stunned and police react forcefully.
When a man walked into a home through an open garage on a recent afternoon, demanding cash from a woman at gunpoint, police dispatched more than 40 units, four police dogs and a helicopter before a suspect was collared. A neighboring grade school was put on lockdown.
It’s nice, I suppose, that crime levels are low enough for police to actually be in the business of prevention rather than post-hoc investigation. But I’m not sure I want the cops to show up every time someone raises their voice. Or to deploy helicopters and police dogs for muggings.