The levee busts

We keep hearing how demanding it is to be a police officer, how officers are overworked and running from call to call with no time just to patrol our neighborhoods. And looming budget cutbacks could mean still fewer officers.

So, I have a suggestion: Let’s get the vice squad to stop wasting valuable man hours harassing gay men on North 10th Street and put police resources to more serious work.

The Sacramento police have been running undercover stings in hopes of stopping homosexual sex in an area not really frequented by the public. (See “Manhunt.”) It’s a victimless crime because the sex is consensual, and the perpetrators are mostly guilty of flirting with cops who flirt back and do suggestive things to entrap gay men. The detectives actually are encouraging and participating in activity they’re supposedly trying to stop.

The police and prosecutors don’t really want to stop the behavior; they’re more interested in getting arrests, shaming the men involved and getting fines paid. If authorities were really attempting to stop the action out beyond the levee, they also would try more-proactive policing by patrolling in uniform and posting signs. Still, that wouldn’t stop the behavior totally. Nothing ever has.

But the worst aspect of this is the abuse of the lewdness law that is not equally enforced. The criminal-justice system in Sacramento targets homosexuals. Heterosexuals who have sex outdoors or sunbathe nude get a verbal nudge (or perhaps a wink) to stop. Who among us, gay or straight, hasn’t had sex outdoors where someone might see? And, if you want to see lewd, just go to a dance club and check out those kids simulating sex on the dance floor. But the police are getting paid to work at the door and so must not see that lewdness, thank goodness.