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Police conducting Facebook drinking stings

We know Facebook has helped police solve all sorts of crimes, from burglary to vandalism. But did you know it's also being used to fight a far more pernicious crime? No, not child sex abuse. Underage drinking. Apparently, a college student in Wisconsin accepted a Facebook friend request from a cute girl he didn't know. Shortly thereafter, he ...

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41 comments

  1. One would think that it’s pretty hard to prove that there was beer/liquor in the glass from only a picture. Reasonable doubt and all…

  2. I think the police are in the right here.

  3. For a country whose violent crime is disproportionate to its wealth, I feel the police have much bigger fish to fry than college drinking (especially that which is discovered via Facebook). Let’s not even worry about whether or not this one will hold up in court. Let’s forget about the pros and cons of the drinking age being at 21. Let’s just ask ourselves some questions:

    -Was the fine imposed on this student significantly greater than the taxpayer-funded police hours spent to track down and process the crime/criminal?
    -If not, was the crime serious enough to make the social benefits justify the financial deficit created by his apprehension?
    -If the fine did offset the police hours, is the crime serious enough to make the (financial & social) opportunity cost of not pursuing other crimes insignificant?

    You can use this for any crime. I would say this case fails to deliver the financial or social benefits that we should expect as citizens and ‘investors’ in the police department. From here, it looks like this police department is essentially creating crimes (low hanging fruit) to process so that their performance statistics look better. Or they’re just incredibly bored. Or they just like pretending to be young girls on Facebook.

    Whatever the case, it seems they — the police — should be punished (a) for wasting tax dollars, and (b) for violating the public trust in their commitment to making us safer. Yes they are upholding the law, but clearly in the most superficial way manageable. If the police or any public organization fails to deliver reasonable results, cut their funding. If they present a good plan to stop real crime, ‘re-invest.’ As an investor, you would expect reasonable success. As a CITIZEN, you should expect no less. (If anything, expect more.)

  4. The government has to PROVE its case in court. There is no way they can actually prove underage drinking from a photograph of someone holding a glass of some unidentifiable liquid. None of these cases would stand up in court if pursued. Someone is going to have to pursue them.

    Suppose you just cleaned your counters with Ajax and someone snaps a photo. The police arrest you, and convict you, of having a white powdery substance that is “obviously cocaine”. No, it is not obviously cocaine….they must PROVE that it is cocaine.

    And no Russell, the police are not in the right here. Ignorance.

  5. Pretty clear case of entrapment.

  6. I can’t help but wonder what happens if, in the admittedly unlikely case, the person pictured is drinking non-alcoholic beer?

  7. Do you enjoy living in Russia, comrade?

  8. How can they prove it was alcohol from a picture? Has this case actually been successfully prosecuted? Even if he was holding a beer bottle or can, the contents can’t be verified from a photo. And to the question about the police not having something better to do – what about the DA? Is there no real crime in Wisconsin?

  9. I think these cops should be utilizing taxpayer money more efficiently than trolling on Facebook looking for pictures of kids drinking if this really happened. I’d be surprised if this story is even true given the lack of specifics. This story is just junk filler material.

  10. a ticket is one thing. if they were found guilty it’s another. Thus, this means nothing.

  11. so…you think there is something better the police should be doing? you know, that’s said all the time with relation to noise violations, speeding, marijuana….

    we have laws and regulations for a reason. are you saying you’d rather just not have any law enforcement whatsoever?

    yeah…there’s a reasonable doubt question. and a privacy question (though, there are plenty of avenues through which to see facebook content without breaking any rules or being friends with ever individual). but the reality is, the police are in the right. underage drinking is illegal. it’s illegal for a reason.

  12. Russell: Obvious Troll.

  13. Russell, you’re an idiot. In this case, Police are retarded.

  14. These cops with plenty of better things to do in law enforcement are your typical super-patriot, flags flying from their pick up truck right wingers whose life experiences consist of Fox News, “COPS” and the Hallmark Channel.

  15. Facebook is public domain, Fair play to the police for using initiative.

    It might be hard to prove the glass does indeed contain beer, but I think most of the incriminating photos will come with some kind of “I’m drinking beer” comment.

  16. OK kids don’t worry all you have to do is post your facebook birthday TEN YEARS OLDER.

    They must be using the listed dates to decide who to bust, right?

  17. Go suck a nut, Russell.

  18. The police are so out of their depth here, it’s actually stunning. Any half-ass defense lawyer would have the case dismissed in a heartbeat.

    So, well done cops. Way to waste public resources and line the pockets of defense lawyers…..well done.

  19. Alright! GO, 1984!

    Let’s see, we have the clinically-depressed woman being denied medical care because she was “smiling” on a facebook profile pic…this case…and we already have people not getting hired (or getting fired solely based by what activity/pictures they show on Facebook. Soon enough we’ll be banning nuns for “flashing at that one SpringBreak party before converting”, and we’ll have a full-house!

  20. This is not an invasion of privacy but a good lesson to everyone about what is private and what is not.

    With that said, ticketing anyone for underage drinking does nothing to preventing underage drinking in a large scale. Just as with minor possession crimes, it only damages our populous and ties up our legal system. It’s unfortunate that police are too worried about crime statistics to actually do anything to prevent or deter crime. I’d love for departments to one day become prevention teams rather than report filing teams.

  21. This is an urban legend. There are stories similar to this all around the country, yet I’ve never seen a story in an actual newspaper.

  22. wow, true “1984″ stuff…if anybody thinks we’re far from that take a look around. In the UK, you’ll get your internet cut off permanently if anyone in your household is pinged as having illegally downloaded crap (even if it as a “guest” staying temporarily), and now you can’t homeschool your own kid if you’ve or anyone else in your household has had a prior offense of any crime of any kind (from petty theft as a juvie to whatever).

    Go read the book, or if too lazy rent the movie of that name (that is, “1984″). Ya think it is going to stop with underage drinking at Facebooks? I did have a neighbor that lost a high-paying job solely because she had some pictures of herself getting beads at Mardi Gras (we all know what this means, right?) and, although censored on her Facebook page, the company let her go on the premise that “her loose behavior contradicts the conservative values of our working atmosphere”, nevermind that she kept her personal life separate from work and all, but whatever. Some perv she rejected at work because she wouldn’t date co-workers probably told the bosses about the Facebook page, is my guess.

  23. Sources?

    Any proof that this happened?

    If this is true, I certainly agree that it is way out of bounds for the police to do. In the State of Wisconsin, people under the age of 21 are allowed to consume alcohol if they are served by their parents or legal guardians.

    Underage drinking may or may not be a problem, but this is not about underage drinking. If this is true (again, I want some proof), it is probably some police department trying to get a new revenue stream.

  24. Y’all are forgetting the most important thing here. These crackdowns aren’t about saving lives, or remaining morally sound, or to “create a better future for our children”, or any other fancy slogan they will say to make you believe they’re doing all of these things “to keep you safe”. It all boils down to 2 things, #1 Winning Votes, and #2 Creating city/state Revenue, priority depending on the year/season. We’re almost up for the 2010 local elections, and it would look very good on a politician to say “I helped stop underage drinking, vote for me”, than to promise some other intangible goal if re-elected or explain why some other goal hasn’t been met since the last time elected. And of course, it helps the city/state raise revenue to do more useless decoration stuff for the city and such. I have so MANY examples that I can’t even put them all in one comment, but just to show some obvious ones.

    Montana State, speed limits: go dig up the stats regarding road rage and traffic collision incidents. Incidents per year have gone UP since speed limits laws were put in place. But the state needed revenue so there u go.
    Nationwide, redlight cameras: originally claiming to reduce T-bone type collisions caused by redlight runners, not only does it NOT reduce # of accidents (since now T-bone accidents have been replace by rear-end collisions), but also helps create revenue in the form of citations to those that do go through the redlight to avoid getting rear-ended, so it’s a win-win for the state.
    St.Cloud, Florida, Wi-Fi system: for years they established crazy laws all aimed at collecting money and for what? A city-wide Wi-Fi system that allows anyone with a laptop or iPhone to be able to access the internet anywhere, anytime, while in the St. Cloud city limits. The Problem? Studies show few actually use it since the majority of residents have their own (and much faster) internet access at home, so now they’re going to have to spend more money to turn it off, if they choose to go that route, or just leave it in place wasting money away and create revenue in another fashion…
    Orlando, Florida, Useless Decorations: thanks to the hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue created from speed/traffic citations, there’s a fake-suspension bridge near East-Orlando if you’re on the 408 TollRoad that does nothing but “look pretty”. The road riding quality across the brigde is actually WORSE than it was before the “renovation”.

  25. wasn’t a law recently passed making it illegal to create a fake online personality witht he intent to deceive? (after the case of the mom who created a myspace page to harrase a young neighorhood teen, who ended up killing herself)

    Why is the law above the law?

  26. Andy,
    Facebook is not “public domain” which means intellectual content not belonging to anyone. Maybe you meant in the public eye, but that’s not true either. Facebook is a privately owned company, that requires MEMBERSHIP, whose very first term of service is “Your privacy is very important to us.”

    A public arrest due to content on private pages (you must extend an accept a friend request) is not very private. The police violated the terms of service on facebook.

    Let’s look at the term “friend request.” Friends don’t bust their friends! This was entrapment, using a photo of a cute girl to gain access to a minor’s private page. Not much different than how pedophiles operate.

  27. This is a “lesson” in government/police intrusion into people’s lives and also a fine example of waste. These charges will never stand. The manager of the idiot cops who have nothing better to do than play around on Facebook should be fired. His boss should also be fired. Why do you waste taxpayer’s money chasing cases that won’t even be prosecuted?

    And russll, you’re a moran. (sic).

  28. This doesn’t sound right, don’t they have to prove that he was drinking beer? More importantly, what is facebook???? Is that like Myspace?

  29. Way out of bounds? You bet. Isn’t there a coffee and donut shop somewhere that needs to be protected? Entrapment? Definitely not. Entrapment would if the the “cute girl” somehow convinced the teen-ager to do something he would not normally have done. From the story, it appears he practiced his little act of stupidity completely on his own authority.

    That being said, I’d have to see a complete analysis of the contents of the container before I’d vote to convict in a trial. It’ll never stand up in court and I’d be really surprised if a prosecutor were stupid enough to even agree to try it.

    Hey, Billy Nab, go harass some drunk drivers or speeders (you know 27 in a 25 zone and the like). But keep your pedophile stings within the boundaries of reasonable activity. Sheesh!

  30. The police are asking the kids to come into talk with them. I know when I was that age, I probably would have fessed up to the police as well. So, that is how they are getting the charges to stick. I saw the segment with the student on the news.

  31. Retarded is what this is. “The police are asking the kids to come into talk with them.” Uh, why so they can interrogate these kids and try to get me to admit to something you have no proof of?

    Notice how Tiger’s lawyers told him not to talk to the P.D. The police are not your friends, they are their to enforce their own perception of the law.

    Unless, the police can obtain a confession then they have nothing, the picture is just that a photograph, could be digitally tampered or even just apple juice.

    “…it is probably some police department trying to get a new revenue stream.” This is why our economy sucks, nobody understands economic anymore. What “revenue stream” does a police department derive from trolling the internet for teen drinkers? And, what other “revenue streams” do police have, I thought their business was law enforcement, not earning money. In fact, unless by statute, any money generated by a P.D. must go into that jurisdictions treasury.

    Somebody please go take a United States civics class.

  32. Personally I think anyone stupid enough to have a face book page, let alone talk to strangers and put their personal information all over the internet, is kind of asking for whatever they get.

  33. In Texas, a minor is allowed to drink if they are with a legal guardian or over-age spouse. I’m not sure about all states, but if there is something like that there, then how could they prove that their dad wasn’t the one taking the picture or something? Honestly, this seems like utter bull and there’s no way it would stand.

  34. I wonder if the police are breaking FB terms of service impersonating an anonymous young woman to lure and attract young men.

  35. Good!! My son was killed by a drunk driver so anything that they need to do to prohibit it is a help. If you were in my shoes, you would feel the same way.

  36. here is the article of this happening http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/article_0ff40f7a-d4d1-11de-afb3-001cc4c002e0.html

    What there doing is wrong and should be illegal. They have given tickets to about 5 kids doing this. Their doing this in Lacrosse Wisconsin. Some of my friends have been getting invite from random hot girls and seeing that they have no friends realizing its the police. I just dont see how this is legal and im outraged

  37. I think this is a wonderful thing! To the police department doing this, keep up the good work!

  38. If you drink underage, you deserve to be caught and prosecuted. Now they just need to exponentially increase the penalties to these young offenders.

  39. I wish they would do this in my town. I would like to see more enforcement of underage drinking laws. An underage drunk driver is the reason my daughter is no longer here.

  40. I think this is stpid if they dont catch you in the act they shouldnt be able to give you a ticket.

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