The bliss of ignorance

Like many people on Oct. 3, I picked up The Houstonian to thumb through before my geology class. As I glanced through the paper, I noticed the article titled “University Police Department abuses its power”, by Eric Barton. I read the article quickly, just to get an idea of what it was about. The author brought up the argument that, in some ways, UPD abuses its power because its officers pull people over for something such as a broken taillight, and during the traffic stop the officer might ask, “Have you been drinking tonight?” To emphasize his argument, Barton stated the definition of “probable cause”: “reasonable grounds to believe that a felony was committed and that the person arrested is the felon.” Unfortunately, the author has been misinformed. “Probable cause” is much better defined as reasonable grounds to believe that a crime, not just a felony but also a misdemeanor, has been committed and that the person under suspicion did commit that crime. Barton’s use of the word felony completely changes the meaning of the word, by narrowing the definition to only felonies. It would be the same as defining an apple as an orange, circular fruit; however, in reality it’s not. Furthermore, the author obtained points of views from the public, like the female who was pulled over for going “two miles over the speed limit.” Unfortunately, the Texas Penal Code leaves out much area for speculation. For example, if the speed limit is 30 and someone is driving 32, the Texas Penal Code does not say, “Oh yes, it’s legal; it’s only two miles over the speed limit.” I also missed the clause that it’s all right to just kill one person. However, the statute does say that driving two miles over the speed limit is breaking the law and so is having faulty equipment like a broken taillight. A vehicle may be stopped and cited for such an offense.Now, getting back to the topic on hand: Should police in general be able to stop someone for violating the law, ask the person they stopped, “Have you been drinking tonight?” and pull the individual out and give that person a field sobriety test if they deem it necessary? The answer is simple: Yes. I believe strongly that public safety is much more important than having my ego hurt by standing outside my vehicle getting the pen test. I think the real problem is people tend to forget that almost three times as many people will die in DWI accidents in this year, in the United States, than people that will attend the approaching SHSU Homecoming football game. What Mr. Barton must justify to himself is whether he will continue to be so upset when a cop asks him if he has been drinking tonight. Will he, as a human, feel comfortable knowing that if he had his way, it might come at the expense of innocent lives?

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