Just to be clear, I love my neighbors. They’re great people, and we’ve gotten along famously for decades. They respect our privacy and quiet enjoyment. We respect theirs. We dine together a few times a year, and we’ve watched each other’s children grow up. Having great neighbors makes life at home infinitely more enjoyable.
But would I want them to be able to ticket me?
Some D.C. residents may soon be receiving parking tickets from their neighbors.
A pilot program, called the Citizen Safety Enforcement Pilot Program, would allow up to 10 people per ward to dole out citations after receiving some training.
If more than 10 people per ward apply for the position, participants in the program would be chosen by lottery.
The people selected would use an app that allows them to take a picture of an infraction, post it and then issue a citation.
“Some” training? Cops are, at least theoretically, well-trained, and they can’t seem to get it right, but “some” training is close enough? And then there’s the lottery, because that’s certainly a sound way to vet who among your neighbors isn’t batshit crazy. Remember, these are volunteers, and not just volunteers, but volunteers who have to apply. They want to do this. They want the power. Inside every radical is a cop waiting to come out, and now they can!
The new program is part of councilmember Charles Allen’s omnibus “Vision Zero” bill, which expands and amends Washington’s efforts [sic] traffic laws to prevent pedestrian deaths. Seven other councilmembers have also signed onto the bill.
No one wants pedestrians to be harmed, to die, and as everyone knows, there’s never a cop around when you need one to nail that sucker who did that thing that you saw and was awful and could have killed someone.
Of course, the notion seems to anticipate the ability to take a pic of the bad thing that happened, even though one never knows that a bad thing is about to happen until it happens, and only then, after it’s happened, can you take a pic of it. So the app idea, with a pic to prove it, seems more likely to take a pic of a plate after the fact than some bad dude doing some bad thing as it happens. But since pedestrian deaths are unacceptable, something needs to be done and this is something.
And once this idea of your neighbors having the power to cite you takes hold, with the dual benefits of free citizen-cops who generate revenue for the state, why limit it to pedestrian deaths? What about parking? What about grass that’s too damn high? What about that mean old white man in a MAGA hat talking smack about Pocahontas?
And what if someone sees them using the app and takes issue with their playing citizen-cop? How would a volunteer protect herself from a beating? Since the volunteers, if they exceed ten, will be chosen by lottery, they could be far right or left, each seeing the enemy through their own lens. One never knows who they will favor and forgive, or who they will target. Some might suspect they’re a bit biased in their enforcement and take issue with how they’re doing their job. With some extreme prejudice of their own.
Maybe you love your neighbors, like me, or maybe you hate them, but do you trust them? Do you trust them enough to put an app in their hands and set them loose to issue citations as they, with “some” training, see fit? What could possibly go wrong?
*Tuesday Talk rules apply. Yes, if you feel absolutely compelled to tell your bad neighbor story, you’re allowed.