Not Again . . .

Yesterday on these pages I wrote of my frustration with University of Georgia student athletes being in the wrong places, at the wrong times, with the wrong people and (allegedly) doing the wrong things. I hoped that it would be the last such post for a long, long time. After all, there's really only so much indignation any one man can muster.

However, I think I've mustered a little more indignation. University of Georgia freshman tailback and tacklebreaking, hole-hitting machine Caleb King was arrested in Athens last night. For having a suspended license. And going the wrong way on a one way street. On his moped. His flipping moped.

First, a disclaimer. What Paul Westerdawg is to Mudcat Elmore, I am to Caleb King. That is, while Paul pointed out that he was once detained for failing to keep his registration current, I was stopped as a college sophomore for going the wrong way down a one way street. I didn't do it because I'm a scofflaw. I did it because it was 5:00 a.m., pitch black dark, and I had no clue where I was going. The first clue I had that anything was amiss was when one of the campus cops came flying out from behind a building with his lights flashing and pulled his car across the road to bar my progress. The exchange went thusly:

Officer: "Sir, do you know this is a one way street?"

Me: "No sir, I don't think I've ever been on this street. Can you tell me how to get to . . ."

Officer: "Sir, do you know that you're going the wrong way on the one way street?"

Me: "Wow. No. I certainly wouldn't have driven this way if I'd known that."

Officer: "May I see your license and registration, Sir?"

Me: "Certainly."

{fastforward 5 minutes}

Officer: "Ok Sir. Here's your license and registration back. I'm giving you a verbal warning. Please try to be a little more observant from here on out."

Me: "Thank you Officer. I will. Now can you tell me how to get to . . ."

Fortunately this was in the days before sickos started shooting up schools, so the guy had no qualms about the fact that I was dressed head to toe in camoulflage (going hunting). Nowadays I probably would have gotten the Methodist ninja treatment.

But the point of my trip down memory lane is that this particular arrest is just ridiculous. And I'm not just saying that because Caleb King is a football player. I would say it about any student. As a taxpayer of the state of Georgia, I am not certain why the officers whose salaries my tax dollars help pay are hauling in moped bandits rather than patrolling the Railroad Lot and East Campus Deck, where there were apparently a series of thefts and breakins on the same night.

Don't get me wrong, having your license suspended for prior unaddressed traffic violations is a stupid thing to do. Caleb King is a dumbass for having it happen, and a dumbass for continuing to drive after the fact. He could say he didn't know about the suspension, but if that's the case, he's a dumbass for not reading his mail. However the last time I took a stroll through the Official Code of Georgia (Annotated, for your reading pleasure) dumbassery was neither a crime nor a misdemeanor. It might give rise to various forms of civil liability, but you don't generally get locked up for it.

Some of you may disagree, but I think the University Police and Athens-Clarke County Police do a great job generally. Really, they have a dangerous, difficult, low-paying and mostly thankless job. Their lot is even more difficult than most police departments because they must balance the need for order with the inevitable social quirks that come with having 35,000 teenagers and young twenty-somethings running around a town where dollar drafts are everywhere. That creates some unique community-policing challenges.

But this? This is just stupid. And any fan of any other college football team in America can feel free to now refer to my school as "thUGA". Make jokes about this arrest. Really, it really won't get my hackles up. Because my indignation stems not from Caleb King doing something stupid. He's a college freshman, so I'm at peace with the fact that like most college freshmen he couldn't avoid a case of doingstupidcraplateatnight-itis unless you put him on house arrest. No, my indignation comes from the fact that people are doing thousands of dollars in property damage, getting robbed by roving thugs, and having their homes invaded by the U.S Marines of all things, while the campus police remove themselves from the streets at the most crime-prone time of the day to escort a wayward moped driver in for booking. That's resource management at its finest.

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