Some people don’t seem to learn
from their mistakes, and it’s quite unfortunate. Even though we often want to
give people the benefit of the doubt, not everyone is able to make the best of
their situations. A second chance should be used wisely and carefully, but not
everyone get the memo.
Last month, Obdulia Sanchez was
arrested for a vehicle violation and weapons charge. On October 17th,
officers attempted to pull her vehicle over for the violation, but she refused.
A short pursuit ensued. According to the Stockton Police Department Facebook
page, an announcement stated that the “driver failed to negotiate a turn and
drove the car off the roadway near the I-5 on ramp at March Ln.” It goes on to
point out that a male passenger ran out of the car and was able to escape
during the incident. Afterwards, the police took Sanchez into custody without
further issues. They found a loaded firearm inside the vehicle.
Only a few weeks prior, Sanchez had
been released on parole after having served time for a 2017 DUI crash that
killed her younger sister, Jacqueline Sanchez Estrada. This particular case
drew media attention due to the fact that Sanchez had been livestreaming just
before the crash as well as around her sister’s death from the crash.
At the time of her release, there was
a bit of an uproar as she had only served about 26 months out of her six-year
and four-month sentence.
There are no further reports stating if she had any substance violations with this arrest. Considering she was still on parole, the decisions she made this time do not give us much hope that she will stay out of trouble. Seems she still has a lot to learn from her mistakes.
Sometimes, it can be easy to forget
that law enforcement officers are humans too. We shouldn’t forget that when
things that can be categorized as human error come up in court. Granted,
officers are in a position of authority that makes it more important for them
to be vigilant in their work. They have to make sure that the possibility of
human error is reduced as much as possible.
But, what about risky behavior? I’m not talking about risking their lives to save others “risky” behavior. What I am referring to is the endangering others kind of “risky” behavior.
According to an article by Bay Area News Group, “reporters from the Investigative Reporting Program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism obtained a list of criminal convictions from the past decade of nearly 12,000 current or former law enforcement officers and people who applied to be in law enforcement.”
Close to half of the convictions were for DUI or related cases. In a way, this statistic both distresses and relieves me. It distresses me in that most of the time, officers were getting caught for being under the influence – when they spend a significant amount of time trying to prevent civilians from driving drunk. The article doesn’t specify if these incidents occurred during duty hours or off-duty. However, it also is a relief to know that most policemen were not caught doing anything more criminal than your run-of-the-mill DUI. Those were dangerous and reckless decisions, but fortunately did not result in great danger.
During the investigation, other questionable behavior and conduct by those surrounding the officers have come to attention. Reports of officers keeping their jobs after causing a crash with injury or fleeing the scene of the crime doesn’t seem right. It is not acceptable.
As much as I believe in second changes, aren’t law enforcement officers supposed to be held to a higher standard of conduct?
Recent years have seen an increased focus on gun rights in
the news as gun violence appears to have increased in frequency. In light of
this, California is considering a new bill – Senate Bill 55 – which would
revoke a person’s right to own a gun for 10 years if they have been convicted
of two or three alcohol-related misdemeanors within the past three years. The
number of convictions would be dependent on the type of offense with which the
person was being charged.
Part of the push for this bill comes from a recent study about DUIs. Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the report found that there may be some correlation between DUI and gun ownership. Out of about 80,000 legal gun purchasers in California, those with prior convictions of DUI were 2.5 times more likely than those with no DUI conviction to be arrested on suspicion of a more serious crime such as murder and robbery. When the convictions were expanded to include slightly less violent crimes such as harassment, the study found that they were three times more likely to have been arrested.
Back in 2013, then-Governor Jerry Brown had vetoed a similar bill, stating that he was “not persuaded that it is necessary to bar gun ownership on the basis of crimes that are non-felonies, non-violent, and do not involve misuse of a firearm.” The JAMA study offers the bill supporters a potential connection between gun ownership and history of drunk driving convictions.
However, the study does not substantiate that there is a direct link between alcohol use and gun violence. Rather than suggesting that alcohol is the culprit behind gun violence, the study suggests that many people “who engage in risky behavior involving alcohol will also engage in the kinds of risky behavior that endanger other people’ lives.” Especially when it comes to heavy drinking and gun access, impaired judgment can make it more likely for someone to act out.
Still, it is important that legislators and commenters understand that they are walking a very thin line. Prior DUI convictions seem to be a better predictor of future violence when compared with non-alcohol related misdemeanors. Recall the movie “Minority Report,” where law enforcement officers arrested people before they actually committed an offense. If you’ve seen the film, think about how the protagonist spent so much time trying to change the predicted outcome.
Is it worth putting a limit on human rights (remember there is a “right to bear arms”) in order to proactively prevent violent acts? Will we eventually come up with a formula that accurately predicts who is more likely to commit more violent acts? It’ll certainly be a tough time figuring that out.