Skip to comments.Bill aims to give police moral powers
Posted on 03/17/2005 7:24:16 AM PST by freepatriot32
Spring Breakers are not easily offended, but even they will admit some behavior crosses the line. "We saw two people actually having sex in the sand," said Nat Gale from Hartford, Conn. "Their friends were all around them. Everyone was trying not to look but they were looking."
Because nobody complained to authorities, it's questionable whether the couple could have been convicted of committing a lewd and lascivious act. Florida courts have ruled that an unsuspecting member of the public must be offended before somebody can be convicted of the crime.
State Sen. Mike Fasano and State Rep. John Legg, both Republicans from New Port Richey, want to broaden the law by letting law enforcement officers decide whether an act is offensive. Their bill has the support of the Florida Sheriffs' Association.
Some officers complain they have become powerless to enforce prostitution and indecency statutes, especially when they occur in nonpublic places such as strip clubs.
The legislation was motivated by two officers who witnessed a couple have sex at an adult movie theater. A prosecutor dismissed indecency charges against the couple because no one besides the police had complained.
Legg said his bill is intended to clear up "ambiguity in the law."
But James Benjamin, a Broward County defense attorney and member of the First Amendment Lawyers Association, called the bill "blatantly unconstitutional."
"You cannot allow the police to become the arbitrator of morality," Benjamin said.
He said the courts created the higher threshold after police raided a swingers' party. Naked people were having sex, but it was consensual and no money was exchanged. Because it was in a private home, prosecutors could not argue that the rights of the public were being violated.
When Benjamin first raised the objections of free speech and privacy, members of the House Criminal Justice committee said they worried that the bill would enable police to arrest teens for "dirty dancing."
On Wednesday, the Committee passed an amended version that said, "Lewdness is to be determined by what a reasonable member of the public might find substantially offensive."
Luke Lirot, a defense lawyer from Pasco County who represents strip clubs, said the bill is still problematic because moral standards will differ between a "Muslim police officer" and a "police officer who goes to nudist resorts on the weekends, of which there are many."
Opinions also may vary between a husband and wife. Norm and Wanda Gagnon, visiting Daytona Beach from Rollinsford, N.H., strolled Monday into a crowd of frolicking breakers near the Seabreeze Avenue beach ramp.
They agreed that sex on the beach and topless women were indecent, but differed on thongs and sexy swimwear. "Depends who the thong's on," said Norm Gagnon.
"I think it's cheapening" to women, said Wanda Gagnon. But then, she said, "you're asking a man versus a woman."
Daytona Beach Police Sgt. Al Tolley said existing laws have been sufficient for his department to deal with lewd behavior in public places. In the case of the couple having sex on the beach, he said they could have been charged for being in the public view. The law would have a greater impact in places like strip clubs.
"If the law were changed, there might be requests for more police investigations," Tolley said.
Breakers said they don't complain about obscenity because they come to Daytona Beach with certain expectations.
"You want to go somewhere there's a lot of stuff going on," said Bryan Arruda, of Moorestown, N.J. "I wouldn't want to be in, like, Melbourne."
At the pool deck of the Desert Inn, Dequan James, 18, of Pistcataway, N.J., stood with Mardi Gras beads around his neck, preparing to negotiate. His friends stood by with video cameras. Though it was only 3 p.m., many students were drunk and becoming bold. The flashing and favors, James explained, work both ways.
"When the girls have beads they ask you to show your stuff," he said. Asked whether he was nervous that police might take him away for exposing himself, James shrugged. "I don't worry about it. That's the tradition, isn't it?"
Perhaps there are too many taboos on sex and not enough on murder.
Oh, the humanity! Imagine a world where the police can stop two people from screwing on a public beach! Next thing you know, these fascists will be opening up a concentration camp in Daytona! I'm moving to Canada.
I agree, people complaining about government legislating morality are almost always the ones that force them to by not using common sense and recognizing considerations for the "rights" of those around them.
But under the existing laws, police can already arrest people having sex in public...IF someone is offended/complains. That seems like the right approach.
In the News today:
An unidentified man robbed the 1st national bank of $1 million in cash...
As the criminal escaped, police were in a quandary, and confused..
It seems no one had actually complained, so they were unsure whether they could arrest him..
In the ensuing confusion the robber made a clean getaway..
That movie must've sucked...
"State Sen. Mike Fasano and State Rep. John Legg, both Republicans from New Port Richey, want to broaden the law by letting law enforcement officers decide whether an act is offensive. Their bill has the support of the Florida Sheriffs' Association."
They call themselves Conservatives? Who sets morals? God or Government?
"Some officers complain they have become powerless to enforce prostitution and indecency statutes, especially when they occur in nonpublic places such as strip clubs."
Good! Maybe these officers should spend their time on CRIME!
If a couple boinks on the beach and nobody complains, is it an offense?
What the police are worried about is people telling them, RIGHTLY, to keep their noses out of places they should not be.
Cops want to be obeyed. It is a sickness. The world would be much better when more people tell cops to shove it.
I'm not for cops with attitudes, just because they're cops. But I'm even less for people with attitudes against cops, just because they're cops. The police are here to enforce laws. Laws are needed because some people feel the need to infringe on other people.
We have things happening in the world that aren't right. This country has the moral clarity that most of the rest of the world doesn't have. People resent this country because of our moral clarity.
Having moral clarity and acting on it, despite what others think, they call that INTEGRITY
I believe the police in Saudi Arabia and Yemen already have this power. Maybe these "Republicans" are trying to bring back the best attribrutes of the Taliban by giving men with guns the power to enforce morality as they see it.
Because it was in a private home, prosecutors could not argue that the rights of the public were being violated.
Dang, what a shame.
"Oh, the humanity! Imagine a world where the police can stop two people from screwing on a public beach!"
It was a bad example for the writer to use as there are already laws on the books that prohibit that. In the case cited in the article no none complained. If there is not a complaint how can the police respond in the first place?
Sounds like a perfect setup for police to openly (rather than subtly as is now the case) extort contributions for their "charitable" outfits.
How can the police charge you with public sex acts if they didn't see you and no one complained?
A much needed small step in the right direction toward decency.
.....I dunno, maybe I should just change the channel.