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Fashion police to soon patrol school halls

April 30, 2002|BY TIM ROWLAND

I suppose it was only a matter of time. Officials announced last week that next year full-time city police officers will staff both North and South high schools.

Good thing this idea didn't come along 20 years earlier at Broccoli Springs High School, or I'd probably still be sitting in the calaboose doing 10 to life.

The way this country is going, I suppose it's a good thing. Get kids used to a police state at a young age.

The city police department has received $425,000 over three years as part of a Cops in Schools grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

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I wonder if down at the barracks officers are drawing straws to see who gets saddled with this detail. I know this, $425,000 divided by three is $141,000 and that divided by two schools is $70,000 and that's about a million dollars short of what you would have to pay me to police a few hundred high school students.

I haven't been in a high school in a long time, but I understand it can get pretty rough. Or maybe it's the same as it always was, but age has changed my perspective. A fellow called the other day, disgusted with how kids not only wear hats in restaurants, but wear them BACKWARDS.

As I hung up the phone, I couldn't help but agree. Oh for the days when we took our hats off indoors or in the presence of ladies, when motoring was a gentleman's pursuit and when even at home we would get dressed for dinner.

In the '70s, we never wore hats into a restaurant. Come to think of it, we never wore shirts either. (One of my favorite signs, when the health department was just beginning to force its bureaucracy on the masses, was one at Warm Springs that said, "Shoes are required to eat in this restaurant." Someone penciled in below it, "Socks can eat wherever they want.")

Careful kids, that's what age does to a person. Back in olden times, we went around in public wearing nothing but a pair of striped, bell-bottomed pants and a string of puka beads. Today, even casual-dress Fridays make me a bit squirrely.

One of the greatest services a cop in school could perform would be to shake down kids who believe it is a good idea to wear their trousers around their thighs. Kids: It's over. That fashion statement went out of style nationally (like everything else) just about the time it was starting to get popular here. Proves that you want to be in Hagerstown for the Apocalypse, because it will happen 18 months later here.

Police say they will have a lot more to do than send kids up the river on a spitwad rap. According to The Herald-Mail, cops "will have several duties, including giving classroom presentations on law and safety awareness, working with schools' probation officers and handling disruptive students."

Um. The schools' probation officers?

I have been gone a long time. How does that work? First period social studies, second period math, third period meet with your probation officer ...

So now they have cops and probation officers - all you need is a judge and a little razor wire and you have a self-contained criminal justice system without leaving school property.

I'm all for catching little hoodlums before they become big hoodlums, but I think we ought to have equal treatment. What's good for kids is good for adults. Not that they are doing anything wrong, but strictly as a precaution, I think there ought to be police and probation officers in the offices of Wall Street stock analysts, Catholic churches, the tobacco and sugar lobbies, the NRA and NFL, the ACLU and UAW, Dick Cheney's office, Dick Gephardt's office, all major credit card companies, cable talk-show hosts, telemarketing firms and what's left of the Medellin Drug Cartel.

Newspaper columnists would be exempt because as of yet there is no law against hot air.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or e-mail him at timr@herald-mail.com.

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