Tucson PD Publishes Names… Unless They are Tucson PD

The Tucson PD published people who had phone contact with suspected prostitutes after first removing the names of police officers.

I had seen headlines about this but decided it didn’t rate a post. Now I’ve noticed a new detail that makes it especially noteworthy.

I confess I didn’t write about this earlier because I didn’t want to be accused of being “soft” on prostitution. I think prostitution should be prohibited… along with all other forms of adultery and fornication. It seems completely hypocritical and contradictory to say that people can have sex with each other with no permanent institutional relationship as long as there is no designated price for services. A guy can buy a girl gifts to get in her bed but he can’t pay her directly.

It makes no sense. Giving up Christian morality as the basis for the law code makes imposing the morality on an arbitrary basis appear unjust and random.

Furthermore, the police are supposed to arrest suspects and then prosecutors are supposed to bring these suspects to trial. The police are not authorized to punish suspects who they have not successfully prosecuted. Otherwise, “innocent until proven guilty” is meaningless.

[See also, “The Banana Republic Is in Texas Too.”]

But that is what the Tuscon PD did. They released names of people whose numbers showed up on confiscated mobile phones. As the Washington Post reports,

The Tucson police department is publicizing hundreds of names and phone numbers that appeared in some cellphones confiscated from several massage parlors around the city. Of course, there could be any number of reasons someone’s number might appear in the phone of a woman working for a massage business that has been accused of prostitution. She might have her handyman or dentist in her phone. Perhaps her friends are in there. Wrong numbers, too. […]

So far, no one whose information was found in the phones has been charged with a crime. That’s why at least some local media are refusing to publish the names.

Bizarrely, Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor confirmed as much when he told the Arizona Daily Star, “The inclusion of information in this list is in no way indicative of involvement in criminal activity.”

So why release the information? Well, to embarrass these people, of course. It’s a form of extra-judicial punishment for what an as-yet unproven, nonviolent, consensual crime.

It is not clear to me that the suspected prostitutes themselves have been convicted yet. I’m not sure they have even been charged. It is all part of an “Ongoing investigation.”

But here’s the kicker. There are members of the PD who are being investigated for involvement in this suspected prostitution ring. But their names are being withheld from the public!

So, before releasing the names of hundreds of people who appeared in the phones, the city police checked the names against the city’s roster of police officers. They then redacted those names, and released all the others. The police officers’ information won’t be released until they’ve had a chance to clear their names through an internal investigation. As for everyone else, well, good luck explaining to your spouse, your kids, your boss and anyone else who might want to know why your name or number appeared in an accused prostitute’s cellphone. Sure seems like two-tiered justice to me.

That’s because it is two-tiered justice.