A Texas cop is being commended on social media networks for giving a teenage boy the opportunity to do 200 push-ups for smoking marijuana in public instead of putting him in jail.
However, while some may consider this punishment “better” than having the boy tossed to the wolves of the criminal justice system, it seems that most have forgotten that our police are paid to enforce the law –not to make up the rules as they go along.
Earlier last week, officer Eric Ball of the Arlington Police Department was called in to investigate a report of marijuana being smoked by a youngster in the parking lot of a local movie theater.
When he arrived on the scene, the cop (who was off-duty at the time) said he could smell the teen was up to no good because there was a distinct odor of weed wafting through the air.
Upon further inspection, Ball said the young man respectfully admitted that he was the one getting stoned and apologized for his actions.
A search uncovered only a “small amount” of marijuana, according to reports, which, by all accounts, is still enough in Texas to earn a person 180 days in jail and fines reaching $2,000.
But instead of taking the kid into custody, the officer decided to get creative by offering the teen an alternative to jail.
“You give me 200 push-ups, I won't put you in jail,” the officer said.
Not wanting to face being locked in a cage with real criminals, the teen dropped down in the parking lot and began racking off push-ups like it was his job. A passerby captured the entire incident on video, which has since gone viral. Many on Facebook and Twitter have applauded the officer for showing leniency toward the young stoner.
“This is what they used to do back in the day when we played football in high school,” the officer can be heard saying in the video. “Coaches make you do pushups, you think twice about doing certain stuff ... especially when you can get off with a second chance.”
There is no doubt that doing 200 push-ups is preferable to jail time, but where do we draw the line?
This story would have an entirely different dynamic had the officer allowed the teen to perform some other activity or service in place of jail. Imagine the public outrage had the officer asked the offender to mow his lawn or wash his car to serve as punishment. In the end, there really isn’t much difference. Cops should not be imposing sentences. After all, who does this cop think he is, Judge Dredd?
There is a system in place, regardless of how rotten it can be, to handle these types of situations. The only option out in the field should be to adhere to the law or simply let a person go. There is no room for creative control when it comes to enforcing the law.
Fortunately, several bills intended to eliminate the penalties for small time pot possession are waiting to be heard in the Texas Legislature. Hopefully, by this time next year, no one will be going to jail or doing push-ups for using a substance that is now legal to some degree in over half the nation.