Posts tagged ‘police’

Cops vs. Skateboarders: Issues in Property and Safety

Officer Rivieri, the officer featured in the video, was sued by the parents of the boy he attacked, but the case was recently thrown out of court in favor of Rivieri. But he may face department disciplinary action.

I recently saw this video of a Baltimore police officer yelling at and physically subduing a 14-year-old skateboarder. The video was posted in February 2008 and has been viewed on YouTube over 3 million times. But other than being popular, this video is not unique. A quick search on YouTube brings up a whole host of videos documenting the clashes between law enforcement and skateboarders, and these clashes have been taking place for as long as skateboarders have been on the streets. Sometimes it seems that skateboarders and cops are destined to be locked in an eternal battle over property, safety, and miscommunication.

As a parent, you want to make sure that your children are safe, but you also want to give them the freedom to pursue what they enjoy in life. There are a few main issues involved in skater/law enforcement clashes that might help us to better steer our skateboarding children away from confrontations with police.

Property Concerns

Most of the time, when police confront skaters it’s over issues involving private or public property. Some private property owners do not want skaters on their property, in front of their store, in their parking lot, etc., because they see skaters as a injury liability, and the same goes for public property. If a skater falls and seriously injures him or herself in or around private or public property, the owner or the city could be liable for that injury. To avoid being sued by a skater’s parents over their child’s high-injury-risk behavior, the city or private property owners deter skaters from practicing on the

A waxed curb

Example of a waxed curb

property through “No Skateboarding” signs and law enforcement patrols. As well, if a skater is caught skating on private property he or she could be charged with trespassing.

In addition to simple trespassing and the risk of potential injury, skaters often participate in defacing or damaging public and private property. Skaters use city features to do tricks. Objects like handrails, benches, stairs, curbs, or other concrete or metal structures can be damaged by skaters who use them to grind on, jump off, and jump onto. As well, most cities view the use of wax on concrete features as defacing public property, akin to graffiti. This damage costs the city money to fix, so it seems logical that they would want to keep skaters from damaging these features.

Public Nuisance

Concerns over property are not the only reason business owners and law enforcement don’t want skaters in certain areas. Because skateboarding is a very physical sport, not only does it pose an injury risk to skaters, but to other citizens as well. Not landing a jump or not having control of one’s board could cause skaters to run into other citizens in the immediate area, causing them injury. Depending on where the skating is happening and at what time, this can be a big concern for business owners who don’t want their customers hassled by skaters and law enforcement who want to keep citizens safe.

Skater fashion

Skater fashion

But beyond safety, many business owners don’t want skaters around simply because they do not have the image the business is trying to convey. In general, skateboarding is not only a sport but a fashion style that may include saggy pants, long hair, ripped clothing, and more. A business owner may be averse to letting these perceived shady characters skate on their property. And although, technically, only the fashion police can arrest you for looking grungy, law enforcement officers also want public places to look nice, so trying to persuade skaters to leave those areas might be viewed as a small-scale public beautification project.

Physical Threats

Although law enforcement has many reasons to enforce property and safety laws, that does not always mean they do so in an appropriate way. As evidenced in the video mentioned above, some officers will use force when they perceive that a citizen is being disrespectful or will not comply with verbal warnings. As well, law enforcement officers face potentially dangerous situations everyday and encounter a lot of criticism from the public and the media. Law enforcement is a high-stress job, and skaters who talk back, make off-color remarks, or don’t respect the law way be seen as a threat even if they pose no immediate physical threat at all.

Avoiding Police Confrontation

As a parent, it’s important to let your child know that law enforcement officers are mainly concerned with safety and property issues when it comes to skateboarders. Here are some thing to avoid:

  • Avoid skating on private or public property that explicitly states “No Skateboarding.”
  • Don’t damage property either by grinding on it or waxing it.
  • Show respect for law enforcement—even if you think they are in the wrong—showing respect will help avoid potentially dangerous confrontations. If the officer really is in the wrong, file a complaint. An officer who receives multiple complaints raises a red flag for that officer’s superior.
Skate park

Skate park

In areas where a skate park is available, help your child make use of it, so they can avoid confrontation with police. If you don’t have a skate park in your area, lobby your city council to build one and point out that creating such a park will reduce crime and concentrate skaters into one area. Overall, just keep in mind that police are not out to “get” your skateboarding son or daughter. They are just trying to keep your city safe and clean. If you let your child know what officers are most concerned about, you may help them to avoid potentially dangerous situations in the future and skate safety.

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September 24, 2009 at 7:55 am 4 comments

1,000 CrimeReports Fans on Facebook!

Today, CrimeReports has reached 1,000 fans on Facebook. It was slightly less than a month ago that we announced 500 fans, but thanks to our enthusiastic users, CrimeReports is growing like never before. We are extremely pleased to have so many supporters across the US and Canada who want to get involved in neighborhood crime prevention by working with their local law enforcement and using CrimeReports.

Thanks to everyone who has made this possible by spreading the word, talking to your neighbors, and working with local law enforcement to keep your neighborhoods safer.

Get even more information and links by following us on Twitter: @crimereports.

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September 11, 2009 at 10:34 am Leave a comment

Rooting Out Sex Offenders, Taking Responsibility For Our Own Neighborhoods

Although the story of Jaycee Lee Duggard has put local law enforcement under the spotlight, and the local police chief has admitted errors, there is one group that hasn’t received much criticism at all for its mishandling of the situation: the neighbors.

Neighborhood Suspicions

I’ve read and heard about the many neighbors who thought Phil Garrido was creepy. And many of them suspected he was probably doing something bad or illegal. In fact, I have read accounts that neighbors even suspected sexual acts were being committed in the backyard, and that children were being kept back there. On one occasion a neighbor called the police, but nothing came of it, so they let the matter drop.

Why didn’t these neighbors—who knew Garrido was a sex offender—voice their concerns earlier or follow up with the police officers? Maybe it was for fear of wrongly accusing an innocent man, or maybe they just didn’t want to get involved.

Taking Responsibility

As citizens in our communities it is our duty to keep our neighborhoods safe. Granted, police have the specific duty to enforce the law when it is broken, but they cannot do their jobs without our help.

One of the lessons we need to take away from this unfortunate case, is that WE are ultimately responsible for the safety of our community—not law enforcement. We need to break out of our shells, talk to our neighbors, and communicate our concern with them. Knowing that other people share our concerns, makes it easier to report crimes, and work together to keep our neighborhoods safe.

If an incident is not resolved to your satisfaction, contact your local law enforcement agency again. Talk to your neighbors and start a coalition to resolve continuing concerns with law enforcement or the local city council, if necessary. I recently heard a law enforcement officer say that if you strongly feel that something is not right, but your neighbor has an 8-ft fence, get a 10-ft ladder and see for yourself what is going on.

Ultimately, ceding our neighborhood protection duties to law enforcement leaves us without control over our own homes, families, and communities. The police cannot be in all places at all times, be we are in our communities all the time. Let’s take responsibility, get involved, and take back our neighborhoods.

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September 8, 2009 at 7:00 am 2 comments

In Defense of Traffic Tickets

Tom Vanderbilt recently posted an annoying, yet true, argument for the virtues of traffic tickets at Among his arguments for praising the virtues of traffic tickets:

  • Timothy McVeigh, Ted Bundy, David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz, and 9/11 ring-leader Mohammed Atta were all brought to police attention through traffic violations.
  • People who commit non-traffic crimes (i.e., burglary, assault, etc.) tend to also violate traffic laws and are more likely to be pulled over.
  • A 2006 study found that when traffic citations decreased in New York, traffic fatalities rose 11%.

I hate to admit it, but he’s right. Traffic tickets keep us safer on the road and off.

You can read the full article here:

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August 31, 2009 at 12:34 pm Leave a comment

20% of Employers Deny Citizens Access to Police through Social Media

According to ScanSafe, 20% of employers are now blocking social networking sites on their company internet. Granted, employers feel that Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and others social media websites can be horrible time wasters; however, they can also be great informational tools, especially if you follow your local government or law enforcement agency through them.

As more law enforcement agencies begin to use social media for critical information, these sites gain a legitimacy that they have not had in the past. Social media information is changing from “I’m eating a ham sandwich” to “Recent string of burglaries in Maplewood: make sure to lock your doors and windows.”

And as these sites begin to be more important sources of real-time information, employers could find themselves at the wrong end of a backlash from citizens and law enforcement who want to give and have access to vital information. For example, besides giving safety reminders, many police agencies will send out traffic information that gives citizens an idea of where accidents have been, so they can avoid them on the drive home. As well, some agencies have sent information through social media about school closings, city emergencies, and other important events that citizens need to know about as soon as possible.

Blocking access to this information could be an increasing concern for employers as more and more people and law enforcement agencies begin to communicate through social media and share legitimately important information.

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August 27, 2009 at 12:36 pm Leave a comment

Community Uses Social Media to Recover Stolen Bikes

The city of Boston and the Boston Police Department have teamed up to fight bike theft in the city and increase their ability to recover stolen bikes. Six weeks ago, the joint effort created a Facebook, Twitter, and email list for citizens. Community members can join any one of them and receive alerts when a stolen bike is reported. The alerts exist to encourage average citizens to be on the lookout for the bike that was stolen. Already the program has led to the recovery of two bikes in the area. Creators of the site plan to expand their reach through a possible iPhone application.


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August 27, 2009 at 12:30 pm Leave a comment

Milwaukee Mayor Hospitalized After Attempting to Stop an Assault

In an act that goes above and beyond his public office, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, responded to a woman’s cries for help. Leaving the Ohio State Fair with his family, Barrett heard the woman’s cries and tried to calm the assailant before things escalated. When Barrett brought out his cell phone to call 911, the assailant attacked Barrett, who suffered multiple bruises, a broken hand, and lost a tooth in the encounter before emergency services arrived on the scene.

Although, I don’t advocate jumping into a potentially violent situation, Barrett’s actions exemplify the type of passion and caring that we all need to keep our communities safe. If we are police officers, neighborhood watch members, or simply parents, looking out for, reporting, and informing your community about crimes is a responsibility that goes beyond protecting our property, toward demonstrating a concern for our neighbors and taking pride in our communities.

The mayor was released from the hospital yesterday and plans to return to work in next few days.


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August 18, 2009 at 12:19 pm Leave a comment

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The views expressed in this blog are those of the individual contributing bloggers and may not necessarily reflect the official or actual opinions of CrimeReports, its parent company Public Engines, or any of its employees.


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