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Subway Stormtroopers?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Jeff, Jul 30, 2004.

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  1. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    This one is so ludicrous you have to chuckle.

    Woman arrested, handcuffed for eating candy bar in subway station

    Canadian Press

    Friday, July 30, 2004

    WASHINGTON (AP) - A government scientist finishing a candy bar on her way into a subway station where eating is prohibited was arrested, handcuffed and detained for three hours by transit police.

    Stephanie Willett said she was eating a PayDay bar on an escalator descending into a station July 16 when an officer warned her to finish it before entering the station. Both Willett and police agree that she nodded and put the last bit into her mouth before throwing the wrapper into a trash can.

    Willett, a 45-year-old Environmental Protection Agency scientist, told radio station WTOP that the officer then followed her into the station, one of several in downtown Washington.

    "Don't you have some other crimes you have to take care of?" Willett said she told the officer.

    Washington has been under heightened security because of the continuing threat of terrorism. And last week, police declared a citywide crime emergency over rising juvenile crime.

    The transit police officer asked for Willett's identification, but Willett kept walking. She said she was then frisked and handcuffed.

    "If she had stopped eating, it would have been the end of it and if she had just stopped for the issuance of a citation, she never would have been locked up," Transit Police Chief Polly Hanson said Thursday.

    Metrorail has been criticized in the past for heavy-handed enforcement of the eating ban. In 2000, a police officer handcuffed a 12-year-old girl for eating a french fry on a subway platform.

    In 2002, one of their officers ticketed a wheelchair-bound cerebral palsy patient for cursing when he was unable to find a working elevator to leave a station. Unflattering publicity eventually led the police to void the ticket.

    Willett was the second person arrested this year for eating or drinking, Hanson said. In addition, police have issued 58 tickets and given more than 300 written warnings.
  2. Coronach

    Coronach Moderator Emeritus


    People eating on public tranist systems is an issue. The only way to make them stop is state sanction, and even that is marginally effective at best. When the state ends up sanctioning an individual, it comes off as draconian and eeeeeeevil because it is being mean to a person for eating. And yet the same people that grouse about ticketing (in this case cuffing and detaining) for eating will be the first to whine about how messy, unclean, sticky and disorderly the public transit system is. This is a Catch-22.

    It seems that she was cuffed and detained because she refused to stop to be cited. Try that while driving, you'll get the same result, or worse. Had she stopped, produced ID and been issued her ticket, as is required by law, we would not be reading about this now.

    Yes, thats my guess as to what happened...but I bet its not far off.

  3. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    This has already been posted.
  4. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member


    I don't live in Washington so I'm confused about all of the protocols and etiquettes of subway transportation.

    All I know is what I read didn't sound right to me. Was she ultimately ticketed and handcuffed for a food transgression, or for failing to show an ID? If it was for the latter, why does she need to show her ID while entering a subway station? Is this SOP? If it is, does it make it moral and just?

    If it was for the former reason, then we have a citizen who was ticketed and handcuffed for eating a candy bar. And you somehow condone this action? :confused:

    Why is eating on a public transit system an "issue?" If the smell of garlic bread or candy bars is more than what some commuters can handle, then maybe they need to find an alternate means of transportation and quit bitching. That's the problem with public transportation, if you don't like all the crap that comes with it, then ride a bike to work.

    A lot of people smell, too. Should we force all commuters to shower before entering the terminal? Feh.

    If the problem of commuter food concerns leaving garbage behind, then those who leave garbage behind should be fined.

    What is so hard to understand?

    Now we have cops harassing commuters for having a quick snack on the go. The same cops that 'busted' a 12 yr old girl and ticketed a cripple.

    :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
  5. Oleg Volk

    Oleg Volk Moderator Emeritus

    I can see ticketing people for littering. Merely eating should not be an offense. I wonder if they'd ticket hypoglycemics, too.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2004
  6. Coronach

    Coronach Moderator Emeritus


    I'm not exactly sure what the laws are on the DC Metro. I'm sure someone who is a DC resident will chime in and fill us in. However, I /strongly/ suspect that it is a minor crime to eat on the public transit system. This is fairly common most places. This is done to cut down on litter (intentional leaving of garbage) and spills (unintentional leaving of garbage), and, if you have ever ridden a subway you'll know, is a pretty necessary rule to make it possible to actually sit down without adhering to the seat and make it from A to B without having someone spill something all over your Armani suit.

    Yes, I'm losing my libertaran street cred by saying that, frankly, if you eat on the Metro, you should get a ticket. So be it. I'll live.

    So, this being a ticketable offense, the offender can be cited. For that you must be identified and sign the ticket (this merely acknowledges receipt of the ticket, not guilt). And I'm wagering that it is treated like any other pedestian offense: if you fail to stop, identify yourself, or fail to sign the ticket, you can be arrested. Anyone in the DC area know?

    I'm guessing that she opted to keep on walking when she was stopped and detained by the LEO. Same as a jaywalker- you need to stop and get your ticket.
    She doesn't...but they need to establish identity to issue the ticket. Now, this raises an interesting point...there is no ID required to walk around, so I'm not sure what DC allows LEOs to do if there is no proof of identity available.
    No clue.
    Well, whats the option? You can do whatever you want and break the law, and if someone tries to stop you, you can just keep walking?
    I condone the action if she refused to cooperate in the issuance of her citation. She made that choice, just like a speeder who opts to not stop for the cop, or the pedestrian violator who tries to just walk away from the cop. She could stop, accept her ticket, roll her eyes and fight it in court (or pay it out), but she, apparently, chose to try to avoid paying for her actions.

    Yes, I agree it is pretty petty and silly. But the option is a Metro system that is filthy and that no one wants to ride.
    Alternately, if you want to eat on your way to work, walk, ride your bike, or drive, rather than breaking the rules of the Metro, and then acting shocked when someone calls you on it.

  7. LiquidTension

    LiquidTension Well-Known Member

    If she finished the candy bar as she was asked to do - something that both sides agree on, according to the article - why did the cop follow her at all?
  8. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    The point is, she never should have been stopped. A cop can stop me because he doesn't like the message on my t-shirt, but does that make it right???

    This argument is almost identical in nature to the last one in which I engaged in this forum concerning traffic stops. There comes a point where stopping people-- either on the road or in the streets-- is no longer in the best interest of anyone, but merely constitutes harassment.

    This story smells too strongly of harassment. It really stinks.

    No, no, no. Those rules of the Metro are unnecessary and totalitarian. The woman is being forced to adapt to a set of rules she should not have to adapt to.

    It bears repeating that those who litter or mess up the trains should be fined appropriately, instead of the gov't creating needless restrictions on something as mundane and essential as eating.

    Littering is already illegal. Make sure the existing laws are enforced before creating more ridiculous ones.
  9. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    I couldn't figure that out either.

    The boy in blue must have been having a hard day. Needed to lean on someone to feel better, I guess.
  10. O.F.Fascist

    O.F.Fascist Well-Known Member

    I definately dont see why food should be banned in subways.

    Is it really that ????ing difficult to put up some trash cans and hire some people to clean up?
  11. O.F.Fascist

    O.F.Fascist Well-Known Member

    NM I just remembered something.

    There probably arent trashcans because they are afraid terrorists will hid bombs in them and blow up the subway. :rolleyes:

    Yea, terrorists win, because of them we cant eat food in subways.

    Thats so damn assinine.
  12. zastros

    zastros Well-Known Member

    "Don't you have some other crimes you have to take care of?" Willett said she told the officer.

    What kind of idiot says that to a cop? A government scientifical type idiot, apparently.

    Maybe if she mentioned that she paid his salary, she'd have gotten out of it.

    Or, she could go for the hat trick and just ask if she could play with his gun.
  13. Avoiding problems while riding the Washington Metro isn't rocket science.

    There's just a few simple rules:

    No eating, drinking, or smoking anywhere in a station, platform or train.

    No playing music.

    Stand to the right when you're on the escalator so you don't block people trying to walk up or down.

    Let the people get off a train before you try to board.

    Don't hog the handicapped/elderly seats.

    That's it. Very simple stuff. Yet people like this woman somehow still manage to get themselves arrested.

    No, these self-centered slobs need to find some other place to nosh. The trains are carpeted and hard enough to keep clean as it is without these slobs spilling food and leaving refuse all over the place.

    I've ridden the Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Washington subways at rush hour. The Washington Metro's Red line out to Shady Grove is by far the most crowded. I don't need to be squeezed in next to some self-indulgent slob chewing in my ear and spilling coffee on me. There's no reason why these ignorant, rude slobs can't readjust their schedule and eat their breakfast, lunch, or dinner at home.

    I wish the Metro Police would enforce the "no gum chewing" rule just as strictly. Nothing like having Ms. Tawana Gumsnapper squeezed in next to you on a hot, crowded, standing room only, evening Red line train for 90 minutes to teach you the true meaning of Hell on Earth.
  14. Nonsense, Nonsense, Nonsense. The Metro rules are very reasonable and don't impinge on anybody "rights." They are no more severe than prohibiting talking on a cell phone in a movie theater.

    There's no good reason why I should be forced to adapt to some self-indulgent slobs eating habits. I shouldn't have to put up with the smell, the trash, the bugs and rodents that always follow when these slobs are allowed to leave their half eaten and spilled food and food containers all around a subway system.

    There is no possible way for Metro to hire enough Police to enforce a rule against littering. There'd have to be an Officer on each train car 24/7. The current system where an Officer screens the passing crowd at the Station enterence to catch violators is the only realistic means to prevent problems.

    There's nothing essential about eating on a subway platform or train car. Even diabetics should have better control over their eating habits. There's absolutely no reason why I should be forced to put up with the noise and odor of some self-centered slob eating a Payday bar on a Metro car.

    There's no reason why this slob couldn't have finished her candy bar outside the Station. Thousands of smokers are required to do the same thing. What is so hard to understand about the concept of simple consideration for others?

    These rules have been in place and very widely publicized since Metro opened decades ago.

    Contrary to what you may be thinking, the overwhelming majority of Metro riders such as myself strongly support these simple rules. Nobody here in the D.C. area wants to see the Metro become a filthy, violent, trash-strewn toilet like the NYC subway has been in the past.

    The cleanliness of Metro is a point of pride for most people here in the D.C. area, and again, the vast majority of riders strongly support the ban on eating and drinking on the trains and platforms.
  15. These rules have been in place since Metro opened. Literally for decades. The people on the Metro oversight board who had the foresight to put these rules in place deserve medals for their actions. These rules have largely managed to keep the Metro a clean and attractive transit system for decades.

    There is no good reason why these inconsiderate, self-centered slobs can't eat their meals at home, or have a snack outside the station.
  16. No, most likely some congenital idiot from out of town who can't read a sign.
  17. Foe[H]ammer

    Foe[H]ammer Well-Known Member


    I chimed in in the other thread and this was my response:

    I'm typically as LEO friendly as they come, having met them on both sides of the right and wrong of the law.

    This is just frelling bullsnipe chickensoup crud. A Metro cop asked someone to not eat in a "no eating zone" (don't get me started on the foolishness of that idea) and then decided to cite her for finishing her food BEFORE she was in the station? I realize it must have been a crippling ego blow that she didn't run right to the nearest trash bin and chuck the offending item away at his\her behest.

    My natural assumption is that the ordinance is in place to limit littering, SHE THREW THE DANG WRAPPER IN THE TRASH!!!!!!!!

    While admittedly the officer was within the law to cite her, why would you? She was commiting no socially damaging deed. She was eating not robbing the Wells Fargo.

    Police officers have within jobs a certain amount of discresion, don't kid me cops, you do, he\she should have used a bit at this particular time.

    If a cop wants to cite me for speeding and I was, no problem.(safety of others)
    If a cop wants to cite me for public intoxication and I was, no problem.(safety of others and myself and protection of "community standard[don't get me started on this one either])
    If a cop want to cite me for littering and I was, no problem.(protection of community standards and environmental issues)
    But eating?!?!?! , that's a big problem law or not.

    While I agree that who ever thought up the law and those who helped pass it should be hung, the officer should have let it go before the verbal warning and certainly after the disposal of the "contraband foodstuffs in a no eat zone" and it's wrapper in the most efficient and mutually beneficial way.

    Cop on a trip, 45 year old scientist perpetrator of the abhorrent crime of "contempt of cop".

    Cool Hand:
    I lived in DC for a bit, thankfully a short bit, and it had bar none the best best public transport in the nation IMHO. I can't help it if you can't stand to see/hear people eat, might want to spend some time on that issue of yours, but it has nothing to do with someones right to eat wherever they are. Oh and when I lived there I rode the Metro at least once a day in my activities and never got harrassed for eating on the trains, which I prolly did dozens of times.
  18. Reno

    Reno Well-Known Member

    Cool Hand Luke, sounds to me like you have a chip on your shoulder about this. According to your view, anyone who eats while they aren't sitting at home or in a restaurant is a "slob."

    Fact is, this woman committed a non-crime. She did absolutely nothing wrong, yet was punished under a law that follows the same logic as gun control laws - no crime has been committed, there is no evidence that one will be committed, but we'd better prohibit something to make sure that no crime can be committed.
  19. spartacus2002

    spartacus2002 Well-Known Member

    So where's the ****ing crime?? Yet the officer followed her and demanded ID? Is a PayDay bar now probable cause or reasonable suspicion?

    So sorry, but I'd tell him to blow off too.

    And to quote Standing Wolf from innumberable other threads, "Yeah, but we're not a police state" :D
  20. Shovelhead

    Shovelhead Well-Known Member

    Just to post a clarification (not that it really matters) but the Wash. Post article this morning states it was a female officer.

    You MUST respect mah Authoritah!
    Eric Cartman
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2004
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