Terrorists, Toe Tappers, and Law Enforcement Resources
Despite his resignation from the Senate, the Larry Craig story won’t die. Arianna Huffington spent her Labor Day wondering, “In the Age of Terror, Isn’t Busting Toe-Tappers an Insane Use of Our Law Enforcement Resources?”
Sometimes a clever title is used as a hook to attract reader attention but the article itself goes in a different direction. Not so here:
In the consensus judgment of America’s 16 intelligence agencies, the terrorist threat to our homeland is “persistent and evolving,” placing our country in “a heightened threat environment.” Given that chilling assessment, isn’t it the height of madness to use America’s finite law enforcement resources to seek out and arrest people for tapping the foot of a cute undercover officer in a restroom?
Does Huffington really believe that Sergeant Dave Karsnia of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Police Department would have been sent to North Waziristan to look for Osama bin Laden had he not been on toilet duty? Or even that there was something he could have been doing to thwart a non-existent terrorist plot at the airport that day?
The mere fact that something is designated Priority One does not mean that Priorities Two, Three, and Four Hundred Seventeen must therefore be ignored. The vast majority of our Armed Forces is doing something other than patrolling Iraq and Afghanistan or hunting for terrorists right now. Only a tiny fraction of our municipal police resources are working homicide right now; the others are dealing with what are comparatively less serious crimes.
While I disagree, there’s an argument to be made that cruising bathrooms looking for anonymous gay sex should be legal and that being occasionally hit on while in the airport bathroom is a price of living in a free society. If the consensus is otherwise, though, then some law enforcement resources must necessarily be used to deter people from this illegal conduct. One officer assigned for a limited time to the single restroom in the airport that has garnered the most complaints would seem an appropriate allocation.
UPDATE: Jeffrey Imm of something called “World Anti-Terror” emails to note that Minnesota has all manner of terrorist problems to which police could be devoting their time. He sends links to articles on MEMRI and similar sites about an Islamist website hosted in the state, a call by that website for defending terrorist actions, Muslim cabbies refusing to let people bring booze aboard, and so forth. It’s not clear what, precisely, he’d have the police do about these things, however.