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Thursday, October 27, 2011

The War on Crime: Cracking Down on Impersonators and Barbers

Phoenix, Arizona
October 20, 2011
     Jace Lankow, an undergraduate student at Arizona State University, interrupted a college football game by running onto the field dressed as a referee. The intruder blew his whistle then ran toward the end zone while stripping down to his underwear. A deputy sheriff apprehended the streaker with an open-field tackle. A few seconds later Lankow found himself on the ground on the bottom of a pile of police officers and security guards. The authorities hauled the offender to the Prima County slammer where he spent the night. Lankow told officers his antics were motivated by his desire to enhance his chances of getting on the TV show "Wipeout" as a contestant.

     The next day, a local prosecutor charged Lankow with Criminal Impersonation, a Class 6 felony that carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison. In Arizona, it is a felony to impersonate a referee. Under federal law, it's a misdemeanor to impersonate a FBI agent. When I was in the bureau, when assigned one of these cases, I'd interview the offender then close the case. I couldn't participate in the prosecution of someone impersonating a FBI agent when I was doing the same thing and getting paid for it. But the impersonators I dealt with hadn't interrupted a football game, and given the seriouness of college football, and the importance of being a referee in a big game, justice can only be served by putting this man in prison and throwing away the key. We simply can't have fake referees running up and down football fields in their underwear. It's unAmerican, and a threat to the peace and dignity of the Game.

Orlando, Florida
June 2011
     Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) agents and Orange County Sheriff's Deputies, wearing flakjackets, masks and all the rest, burst SWAT team style into Brian Berry's barbershop, and in front of his frightened customers, handcuffed him and his staff of barbers. The reason for this sudden, violent, and humiliating raid was to determine if Mr. Berry and his employees were all properly licensed. As it turned out, they were.

     In October, Brian Berry and several other Orange County barbers asked a federal judge to direct the DBPR to pay monetary damages to Berry and the other barbers who had lost business after being subjected to these unwarranted, militaristic raids. Three DBPR raiders were fired over these invasions, and raids of this nature have been discontinued. Still, it's disturbing that they happened in the first place. If the police are not restrained, this is what they'll do. This is, unfortunately, the nature of the beast.

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