Opinion

Cops Extorting Kids Operating Lemonade Stands

I stumbled upon an article that reminded me of an issue I haven’t written about in a while: Why do governments pass stupid laws that make cops look bad? This article, written by Rachel Blevins, appeared at Freedomoutpost.com. And while she makes many good points, some of her comments appear to betray an ingrained bias against cops that may blind her to reasoned discussion on law enforcement topics.

She writes generally about authorities shutting down kids’ lemonade stands and specifically about a large lemonade company, Country Time, which has offered to pay kids’ permit fees or fines if they are shut down and ordered to pay up.

Now, I agree with many of Ms. Blevins’ contentions. It is ridiculous that any city or town would waste time and risk horrible public-relations damage by shutting down kids’ lemonade stands—not to mention traumatizing the children.

However, I vehemently disagree with one of her apparent and acerbic conclusions: “Every summer there are disturbing stories of children who were extorted by police officers who apparently have nothing better to do with this taxpayer-funded time—such as solving real crimes with actual victims [emphasis mine].”  Aside from biased, wasn’t that comment a cheap shot?

May 29, 2018: Officer Tuxhorn stopped by a lemonade stand this weekend in an attempt to connect and cool down. (Credit: Facebook/Arkansas City Police Department)

With all due respect to Ms. Blevins, cops don’t “extort” little children because they “have nothing better to do.” For one thing, where’s the extortion? The thought that all or a portion of any fines or permit fees would go into an officer’s pocket is absurd.

Back to what the writer described as indicative of a “police state:” Lemonade stand oppression. Sometimes cops are sent to enforce stupid laws. Of course, children operating lemonade stands should be exempt from permit requirements. Duh, right? So, get with your state, city, county, or town elected representatives and change or repeal stupid laws or the parts that are stupid. Don’t blame the cops for enforcing your laws.

Cops don’t make laws, stupid or otherwise; through your elected representatives, you do. Cops enforce laws. When governments pass stupid laws, such as making it illegal for 7-year-old Jenny to sell a cup of lemonade from a sidewalk stand, the cops pay the price.

“Officers stopped by the soon-to-be famous Logan’s Lemonade stand for a refreshing cup! Logan is raising money for the Humane Society.” (Credit: Facebook/Grand Blanc Township Police Department)

When I was still on the job, and I saw a cute little tyke at a lemonade stand, I’d wave as I passed by. Occasionally, I’d stop at the stand (shhhh, don’t tell anyone) and buy myself a cool, refreshing beverage from a diminutive, budding entrepreneur.

On the other hand, if I’d had to respond to a neighbor’s 911 complaint, my boss’s orders, or a city permitting agency’s request for enforcement of an unpermitted street vendor, I’d have had to respond and take appropriate action.

It would be my duty to inform the “offender” the city had a law that required street vendors to obtain permits—even kids selling lemonade. In other words, it’s my job to tell them that the city requires permits to sell items on the street and that the voter’s representatives did not make an exception for children.

As far as having “nothing better to do,” in my first book, Is There a Problem, Officer?, I wrote about responding to what turned out to be a homicide. Although the victim was still alive when we arrived, her wounds were too severe, and she was pronounced dead at the hospital.

In her apartment, a man had stabbed her multiple times in front of her 10-year-old son who was hiding behind their Christmas tree. Later, following my part in the investigation, a man I’d stopped for a traffic violation asked me if I had “nothing better to do” than stop him. You know what? I did have something better to do, and if that man hadn’t been driving like an idiot, I’d have been doing it.

When was the last time you had to go back to work after performing CPR on a stabbing victim who died? Cops do it all the time! Yes, cops go back to work after violent robberies, rapes, traffic collision fatalities, SIDs, and murders—even when the victim is a fellow cop.

And yes, cops even go back to work after they’ve extorted little children out of their lemonade stand money because… well, you know…they’ve got nothing better to do.

I’ll say it again…and again…and again: I don’t know what it is about the law enforcement profession that so many people who aren’t cops think they know better how to do police work than those actually trained to do it.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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