Originally created 08/06/99

Aiken stop justified



At first glance, it doesn't look good.

The Aiken County Sheriff's Department was looking for a 37-year-old hardened felony suspect.

The people stopped in their car were 11, 18 and 19 years of age.

The innocent youths were handcuffed and "folded over" to the pavement in classic police-style manner.

Unfortunately, the notorious suspect -- whose mother repeatedly pointed out the boys' car that she adamantly said her son was in -- had no connection with the trio.

Chief Deputy Maj. Jody Rowland defends the action, noting that it is standard procedure to stop, detain and handcuff occupants when trying to identify a felony suspect. He says when the mistake was discovered, the boys joked with the deputies, the deputies apologized and it wasn't until at least one vocal parent started screaming about "police brutality" and "psychological damage" that the story took on a new life of its own.

Yet even the 11-year-old son of this vocal parent stated he wasn't hurt and that he understood why the deputies acted in the manner they did.

This was not a serious police error. The main mistake was made by the mother who pointed out the vehicle.

Finally, just think of the public outcry if the deputies had hesitated and not stopped the car, and the fleeing felon was inside. That would been a gross dereliction of duty and a failure to protect public safety! The parents of the three boys should reflect on that scenario.