While attempting to get crime off the street, the police often engage in tactics that unnecessarily invite people to engage in criminal activities. In several recent cases of entrapment, it’s obvious that law enforcement is creating crime to stop crime.
On September 2nd, 2014, the Circuit Court in Osceola County threw out seven grand theft cases of grand theft in a sting operation from April 1.
The Osceola Sheriff’s office set up a purse with $350.00 visible and waited for someone to “take the bait”. Anyone who took the money or contents of the purse were later arrested. The seven defendants in the case were represented pro bono by attorney Don Waggoner. Judge Jon Morgan noted that the police did not have any knowledge as to the defendants’ propensity to crime, most whom were homeless or had low income jobs. In other words, the defendants were not subjects of any police investigations. They were simply enticed to commit a crime by law enforcement’s actions.
I have personally seen this type of investigation in Broward County. Sheriff’s office deputies were filling duffel bags at the airport bus benches and waited for folks to pick it up. In addition, and more notable, the DEA, ATF, and local jurisdictions over the last three years have been conducting Operation Smoking Gun. In these operations, a fake store is set up by the police, where undercover officers sell bootlegged clothing, cigarettes, adult videos, and other wares. Their goal is to interact with people with criminal histories who may want to illegally sell guns or drugs.
What does the public get from having homeless men arrested for taking something that doesn’t belong to anyone? What good does it do for DEA to set up an illegal shop for one year to sell stolen merchandise to people and create a beehive of criminal activity just to get a few guns off the street? This type of policing creates crime with no benefit to anyone.
I am glad that fellow FACDL attorney Don Waggoner stepped up to the plate and got those cases dismissed. This might encourage law enforcement to actually start stopping crime, rather than inciting it.
For information about the Law Offices of Matthew Konecky, visit MatthewKoneckyPA.com.