Arrested For Doing A
By James Donahue
The arrest of a 78-year-old
man who thought he was doing a kind deed for a woman in distress reeks of a new kind of insensitivity practiced
by police. The story raises even more barriers between “them and us.”
It seems that Rosco O’Neil
was shopping for groceries in a Winn-Dixie when he was approached by a woman who said she needed a ride. She said she needed
help getting home.
When O’Neil finished
shopping, the woman was waiting for him and he agreed to drive her home. The moment he dropped her off, however, he was surrounded
by police officers who issued him two citations for operating an illegal taxi service. They also impounded his car.
It turns out that the
woman was an undercover police officer for consumer services who was targeting people providing illegal taxi services in the
area. O’Neil was hit by the court with $2,000 in fines and charged another $400 to get his car out of hock.
Unless the news reporter
missed something, there seems to be something radically wrong with this story. It appears that the man was not driving a vehicle
that looked like a taxi, had no writing on its sides, or a light on its roof that implied it was a cab, and the man did not
solicit the woman for his services. She approached him.
When he arrived at the
woman’s home, she reportedly offered him money for the ride, and asked him how much he wanted. He told her he would
accept anything she wanted to offer. In this day, with gasoline prices going through the roof, going several miles out of
your way to take a stranger to his or her home might prove costly. Can we blame the man for accepting an offer of payment
to cover the cost of the gasoline used?
O’Neil said he
never discussed money until the woman insisted on paying him. Once he accepted money, however, he was put under arrest.
The police at the scene
all stand by their story that O’Neil conducted a business transaction with the undercover officer and that he was in
violation of the law. O’Neil said all he did was provide a ride for a lady in need.
With all of the REAL
crimes going on in our midst, what are the Miami-Dade area police doing wasting their time entrapping elderly gentlemen on
charges of offering illegal taxi services? What could O’Neil have possibly done to get him so entangled in a police
operation such as that?
Our lives are filled
with enough hectic and uncertain events. We do not need the police, who were supposed to be hired by our tax dollars to “protect
and serve,” generating harassment like this. A man of 78 years is likely living carefully on a fixed income. Assessing
him $2,400 in unexpected fines and charges for trying to perform an act of kindness could affect his personal budget for months.
Stories of this nature
also make it much harder for the rest of us too reach out to our neighbors when they ask for help. How will we know that that
person claiming to need our assistance isn’t another undercover police officer, faking personal trouble in order to
get us to violate some obscure law we never knew existed.