Some folks think rather harshly of our local police chief here in Providence because he posts arrests, along with mug shots, to Facebook. I really don’t get it. People are more concerned over image than they are over the fact that someone has committed a crime and gone to jail. Or that someone has a serious drug problem and they’re taking their children down with them. They try to blast the police for charging someone with a crime, and usually make some statement about “unless you know their story...” blah blah blah.

A crime is a crime folks. Your motivation really doesn’t matter. Your state of mind really doesn’t matter. You were sad, depressed or strung out on cocaine...still doesn’t matter. You commit the crime, you do the time. The problem we face today is that so many in our society don’t want you to pay the price for your crime, they want to make up excuses and give you a pass. That goes for the court system as well, where I regularly see cases where people are convicted of multiple crimes (including felonies and violent crime) and then given probation. Sometimes they violate that probation, go back to court on new charges and get probation again.

If their is no punishment, there is not justice.

Clearly going to court isn’t stopping them, because the court system isn’t going to hold anybody accountable. Yes, drug addiction might be a disease, but its not a disease that is being treated when you probate them out and send them back home to the same environment they just left. Or you put them in drug court where they get to hangout with other drug addicts.

Our criminal justice system broke on the day that judges and prosecutors decided it was their job to fix criminals instead of punishing them. Those intentions might be noble while standing in the courtroom, but they mean nothing unless you are going to someone’s house and holding their hand while they battle with withdrawal. Its an empty promise unless you’re there to talk them down when their buddy shows up with a baggie of meth and wants to get high. You’re expecting a person who is already broken and circling the drain to pull themselves up and straighten their life out.

We need to get real. Drug addiction is a problem that is ripping out communities apart. When people get mad because the police chief posted their arrest on Facebook or their mug shot ran in the local newspaper, its actually highlighting the problem. People aren’t concerned about the ones getting arrested. They don’t care if they were cooking meth in their garage or if they were getting high with their ten year old. They are just worried about how it makes them feel to see someone they care about in trouble...or maybe more correctly, how it makes them feel to see someone they care about getting in trouble while all they do is defend them on social media.

If someone gets arrested with their pockets full of meth, its not time to worry about mommy and daddy, they’ve done had their chance. Its time to worry about that person getting arrested. And I don’t mean worrying about their image. Image means nothing. When they OD or they get high and kill someone in a horrible car accident, their image is going to be shot anyway. Worry about them now. Help them while you can. If you can’t get them to accept help, turn them in and hope that getting arrested while push them to turning their life around.

I’ve lost people to substance abuse. The last one died at the end of a bottle. I tried to talk to him about it, and for my efforts, he wouldn’t talk to me at all during the last six months of his life. I knew the end was coming. The signs were there. But he wanted nothing to do with me because I tried to help him. I hate that. But I would hate myself more if I hadn’t at least tried to get him to help himself. Sadly he cut me out and we lost him.

How many people have to die before we wake up? Stop worrying about image. Image is fleeting. Life is precious. Is the life of someone you love worth less to you than your own image? Would you sacrifice them to make yourself feel better?

That is exactly what people are doing, whether they see it that way or not.

So, Chief Jones, keep on posting your arrest reports to social media. Its not about dragging their names through the mud or making fun of them, its about shining a light on the moral decay of our society. Its about letting the community know that these people need help. If they are your loved ones, don’t get mad because he posted their picture, get mad because they have a drug problem.

Don’t go after the police, go after the drug dealers. Get your loved ones help. Save them before its too late.