Paul Jacob

Some time back I posed a question: “Could the most important thing one does for one’s community be to send a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution to local politicians and police?”

The question was rhetorical, since the expected answer was “yes.”

Increasingly, our police and prosecutors seem more interested in putting people in prison than in making society safe for peaceful folk. They need to look at the Constitution. Regularly.

But the problem is not just ignoring the Constitution. The problem is ignoring common sense.

It seems almost daily we read news reports that tell us of some insane bit of “piling on” by law enforcement.

Take Trooper Michael Galluccio, of Boston.

John Davis was driving his wife Jennifer to a hospital. She was in labor. Her contractions were a mere three minutes apart. And John had twice been waived on by troopers, using the breakdown lane of Route 2, to get to a hospital during rush hour.

So John pulled up behind Galluccio and asked permission to go on just a little bit further, to the hospital exit.

Not only did the trooper not heroically offer to escort them, he said no, and he made the gasping Mrs. Davis bare her belly for him. And then he took up their time writing out a ticket.

The trooper wouldn’t let them proceed on the open lane, but he did ask them if they wanted an ambulance. They declined. They were so near their goal. “We just want to get off this exit,” Mrs. Davis said.

Here we have a classic case of the letter of the law conflicting with the spirit. Laws are made for men. And pregnant women. Everyone with a lick of sense knows what the trooper should have done. But the trooper did exactly the wrong thing.

This enforcement mentality may seem to flow naturally form a “tough on crime” stance. But it doesn’t. The crimes that need tough enforcement are assaults, murders, burglaries, robberies. But in a medical emergency, driving on a special lane — or even on the side of the road, with continuous honking of SOS in Morse code — can only be seen as legitimate.

Unless you have forgotten the purpose for laws in the first place.

And many in law enforcement do.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.