As reported this week, a police chase took place in Morrisburg between SDG OPP officers and a 17-year old male July 24th. There are two key issues with this chase and arrest that are causes for alarm.
The first issue is that a chase occurred at all. The accused’s vehicle was observed by police who then pursued it down many of the most densely-populated streets in Morrisburg at considerable speed. This chase passed busy hot weather attractions like the splash pad and playground at Earl Baker Park. Many of the streets the chase occurred on do not have sidewalks, so people walk on the side of the road. Should a child or members of a family been hit in this pursuit, the consequences for everyone involved would have been devastating.
There were other methods available to the police to apprehend the suspect. Those methods should have been used. Given Morrisburg only has four roads to enter or leave by, it would not have been difficult to find a red-orange pickup truck attempting to leave town.
The second issue deals with what happened after The Leader reported this story online last week. The accused 17-year old cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Yet calls on social media demanded his identification. “It’s a small town, we’ll find out,” read one posting. There were also suggestions of how to punish the accused that hearken back to the days of pitchforks, tar, feathers and other archaic methods of “justice”. Sadly many of the comments posted to our social media had to be deleted. What a pity they were made at all.
A 17-year old boy made a series of serious mistakes. He was caught by police and now will face the justice system. Justice by mob-rule has no place in our society, and hasn’t for centuries.
Yet the ease of posting a comment to social media enables everyone to be judge, jury and executioner from the comfort of an armchair. Youth are not identified for a reason: The intent is that their past actions will not cause them to be severely compromised as adults.
That does not mean that youth who are charged and convicted of a crime are not punished: Rather they can have the best chance of rehabilitation after they have served their time.
Allowing the courts of public opinion and mob-rule to out someone goes against the spirit of our justice system. Please leave your pitchforks, tar and feathers to the dust bin of history, where they belong.