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Street Punks

© January 2008 Anthony Lawrence

Yesterday I ran a pile of invoices and other mail down to the post office. As I parked my car, a group of four teenagers was walking up the street toward me. One of them was drinking a large soda from a paper cup, and as they got nearer, he tossed it.. not in the trash can ten feet in front of him, but on the sidewalk, where it bounced off a store front, spilling some of its remaining contents.

"Jerk" was the first thing that came to mind. Probably I thought his parents might be responsible for not instilling some basic social responsibility, and I also wished that there were a cop nearby - though a cop probably would have just ignored it, which is a whole other problem to my mind. I wasn't about to confront four teenagers over that: I'm strong and in good shape, but I'm quite sure the four of them could take me down pretty quickly. Not that it necessarily would have become physical; if I had said something they might have just slunk off or been happy to salute me in the time honored single digit fashion. But I wasn't going to take that chance over littering.

I said I suspect most cops would have turned a blind eye too. They might argue that they have better things to do, that it's not worth the hassle. Maybe.. but a person with no respect for society as evidenced by careless littering is probably a person who is uncaring about other things. I think it is worth hassling them, fining them, taking up their time. I think it improves society in general and might retard or prevent some other unpleasant behavior.

And that's where video surveillance enters the picture. If I knew that video cameras were watching that street, and knew that the teenagers were aware of that too, I would have felt a lot more comfortable yelling at the little miscreant to pick up his trash. If there were cameras, he might not have tossed it to begin with.

I know, I know: the ACLU wants me to send my card back. I don't see it. I do not see a problem with public surveillance. As I've said before, it's no different than if a cop happened to be there. I would have called the littering to their attention or it might never have happened at all.

I went in the post office and put my mail in the appropriate slots. I meant to go pick up the cup on my way out, but got distracted by something and forgot.. I remembered as I was half way home and became annoyed with myself, so now I'm upset with the kids, their supposedly negligent parents, the non-existent cops, and myself.. that made me laugh: one small piece of trash and I'm doing mental flagellations of half a dozen people..

Oh well.. I suppose it gives the DPW guys something to do. They need a paycheck too.

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Sun Jan 13 10:29:06 2008: 3443   anonymous

In the UK many of our town centres are under constant video camera monitoring.
Due to the costs involved, and budget cuts etc, the monitoring stations tend to be merged into bigger and bigger centres with less and less active monitoring staff.

No-one is going to get charged with littering, even tho the video evidence is available.
The operators are looking for serious crimes on 10s of monitors at once, and a teenager dropping litter doesn't really register. If the operator did call it in, who will respond? the police are also busy dealing with real crimes.

The only thing I think you could say is that if the place were under video monitoring, you could have approached the teens and given them hastle, with less fear of getting a kicking, since the kicking would have been on video.
I think you would get the response you suggested tho, single finger, even so.

Sun Jan 13 12:13:57 2008: 3444   TonyLawrence

I think you are exactly right.

I also think that small crimes should be pursued.. New York City had good results from that - the people who ignore small laws will also ignore the big ones.

Sun Jan 13 15:32:45 2008: 3446   bruceg2004

A few months ago, some kids actually had the audacity, to throw a whole bag of "Burger King" out the window, with me behind them, and it hit my windshield! They just tossed it high into the air, and I had no choice but it run into it. I did call in the plates, and I doubt anything ever came of it, but that just plain disgusted me. There seems to be less respect by todays youth, although I guess any generation will say that. But, these kids working at the supermarket, or other service related retail, act like their jobs are so hard, and that they work too much. Hell, I held down a janitorial job in high school, and worked my butt off, and never complained. I was never late or missed a day of work. The current generation seems like they don't work as hard as previous generations, and expect the world. That boils down to parenting. OK, before I get off into a rant, I need to stop...



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