Just Another Guy with Opinions

Entrapment or Crime??

Posted by shadmia on December 29, 2007

Below are two stories about police sting operations. They raise serious questions as to what is entrapment verses a legitimate police operation. In both cases the defendants went to trial. Each received a different verdict.

Robin Garrison, an off-duty 42-year-old firefighter, was walking in Berliner Park in Columbus, Ohio, in May when he saw a woman sunbathing topless under a tree. Topless sunbathing is legal in Columbus. They started to talk, she smiled encouragingly at him putting her leg on his shoulder. They started to get comfortable together. She then asked to see his penis. He unzipped his pants and showed it to her. That’s when all hell broke loose……

Undercover police officers pulled up in a van and arrested Garrison – charging him with public indecency. The cops were in the park targeting men having sex or masturbating. The topless woman was working with them. They captured the entire incident on video. While topless sunbathing is legal in the city’s parks, exposing more than that is against the law.

Law enforcement officials say that such sting operations are an extremely effective means of lowering crime rates and stopping the criminally minded before they commit worse offenses.

At Garrison’s trial, his attorney, Sam Shamansky, argued that it was a case of entrapment.

“Columbus police utilized this topless woman to snare this man,” said Sam Shamansky. “He sees her day after day. He’s not some seedy pervert.”

The argument failed to sway a Franklin County Municipal Court jury that found Garrison guilty of public indecency last month. He was ordered to stay away from the park, placed on a year’s probation and fined $250. Shamansky plans to appeal the verdict on the grounds that the jury wasn’t instructed on the definition of entrapment. Currently, Garrison remains on paid desk duty while the fire department conducts an internal investigation into his behavior.

In New York City, nearly 300 people, many of whom had no criminal record, have been snared this year through the NYPD’s Operation Lucky Bag, in which undercover officers leave a wallet, iPod or cell phone in a subway station and wait to see who picks it up…….and then they arrest them.

Although deputy police Commissioner Paul Browne says the program has helped cut subway grand larcenies by half, critics say that the police have gone too far.“It’s pretty straightforward that this is a police-created crime,” said Legal Aid Society lawyer Alex Lesman, who defended a man arrested for taking a bag containing an Xbox video game box, a Sprint cell phone and cash.

“The police set this whole thing up. They shouldn’t be doing that and luring people in that situation, especially in this age of terrorism where the transit system is always telling you to be on the lookout for suspicious bags.”

In this case the judge agreed with Lesman, acquitting his client, Antonio Arroyo.

“The police should concentrate their noble efforts on behalf of the city on countering real crimes committed every day,” wrote Kings County criminal court judge Matthew A. Sciarrino Jr.

“They do not need to manipulate a situation where temptation may overcome even people who would normally never think of committing a crime.”

Both of these cases involved a defense argument that the police engaged in entrapment.

“The definition of entrapment is police activity that induces somebody to commit a crime that they otherwise wouldn’t do,” said Gabriel Chin, law professor at the University of Arizona. “It’s not entrapment to give somebody an opportunity to commit a crime.”

Chin explains that entrapment involves an officer cajoling and persuading someone who’s resistant to the idea of committing a crime. “Just preying on a predisposition is not necessarily entrapment.”

Referring to the New York case Chin says: “lots and lots of people wouldn’t turn in a wallet when it’s full of money. The temptation may just be too powerful.

“I’ve found $5 on the street and put it in my pocket,” said Chin. “If I found $5,000 on the street, I hope I would do something different.”

Are we all just latent criminals waiting for an opportunity to commit a crime and are these sting operations designed to induce criminal behavior in all of us? The underlying premise of these types of operations is that most people can be encouraged to break the law……….or else there would be no point in conducting them.

By using these tactics aren’t the police just creating more criminals??


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2 Responses to “Entrapment or Crime??”

  1. […] Firefighter entrapped […]

  2. Billy said

    It looks like a very serious and real crime … that police have to stoop so low to improve their numbers by trapping other public servents. 42 year old man charmed by a half naked woman. What will they think of next? But lets not forget the victum, how much was the girl paid for her role?

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