Is it a crime to discuss having sex in public? To lick you lips in a park? Or to carry a condom? Since the police didn't tell the press anything worse happened in the cruising sting that saw the arrest of a local politician, you have to wonder.
Crowley said the operation - still ongoing - is aimed at halting what has been a chronic problem of men soliciting other men for "stranger" sex at the park.
"This is a family park," Crowley said. "We want to clean up the park to make it safe for families so they won't risk being exposed to seeing this."
In the arrest of the Taunton city councilor Wednesday, an undercover officer said he was parked in an unmarked vehicle at the park when another vehicle pulled up beside him, Crowley said.
Crowley said the suspect began to stare at the officer and "began licking his lips."
The two got out of their vehicles, walked to a pathway and a conversation involving sex ensued, Crowley said.
Officers nearby then moved in and arrested the suspect, he said.
Daniel M. Barbour is a city councilor, so he's become the center of the story when it comes to these sex stings in this park. He was arrested with, according to local TV news, "sexual aides on him." They couldn't say so we have to guess; I'm going with condoms.
Since talking about having sex and carrying condoms is as good as having done the nasty in public, I wonder if these cops are going to go to straight hang-outs and arrest everyone there who does the same?
Barbour is denying everything, as he should be. The court already dropped one charge against him:
Barbour was arrested Wednesday afternoon and charged with lewd, wanton and lascivious conduct and accosting or annoying a person of the opposite sex. The accosting charge was dismissed before the arraignment. Barbour was released on personal recognizance after his arraignment Thursday in Brockton District Court.
The officer in plainclothes was male, so how was that accosting a person of the opposite sex?
My guess is that the police were hoping to railroad him into making a confession by telling him the whole thing would just go away if he signed on the dotted line and didn't tell anyone about it. Then he'd have a record and they could say they did something to "clean up the park," even though these stings never seem to do anything to actually reduce public sex the way, say, providing a decent alternative would. And some police officers probably just have fun arresting people who they think are gay.
The thing is the police's accusations have been vague at best since they didn't wait for Barbour to actually do anything, if, in fact, he was planning on doing something. The craziest place I've ever had sex was at the foot of the bed, but I've taken walks before in parks, several in the past year, where I became aware that I was in a cruising area. I didn't really know since these men aren't that direct (it always reminds me more of a junior high school dance than an orgy), and if I wasn't paying attention I wouldn't have noticed anything other than a lot of guys hanging out alone in their cars in a park.
And the press doesn't have any more proof than the police that Barbour did anything. But that won't stop the local paper from already finding Barbour guilty of having sex in broad daylight. Consider the first two paragraphs of this local analysis piece:
Why would a well-known city official choose a public park in broad daylight as the forum for a sexual encounter?
Experts say Taunton City Councilor Daniel M. Barbour was actually trying to hide his behavior when he allegedly propositioned an undercover male cop in D.W. Field Park Wednesday afternoon. Barbour was arrested and charged with lewd and lascivious conduct.
The guy pled not guilty and the police didn't even accuse him of having sex in broad daylight. The press could exercise a little restraint and let due process happen before he becomes their poster child for men cruising in parks. The police lie and oftentimes they don't have enough evidence to confirm their suspicions. The press, of all people, should be skeptical of the police's claims, especially if a suspect hasn't been convicted and he's openly denying the charges.
An unsigned editorial in the same paper had a similar, confused opinion on the matter. Can you believe someone wrote this in defense of cruising stings?
The dirty, little secret about the park is that is has long been a meeting place for men seeking men. Police have had little success stopping it; at best, they contain it. And even then, nothing can prevent D.W. Field from being touted on the Internet as a great place for sexual activity - most often among homosexuals.
Police make it clear they have nothing against gay sex. But they don't accept it in a public park. Most often, it is discreet, but some people told us they can't even go fishing without being propositioned. It has gone on for decades.[...]
Police also should not just hit and run with a sting operation, but be consistent in their monitoring of known activity locations. The reputation of the park will not change on the Internet or anywhere else until it's known that police are never turning a blind eye.
This activity is a stain on Brockton's reputation and diverts valuable police time and resources. The park is a place for wildlife and picnics and jogging, not for furtive sex in cars and behind trees.
The writer apparently knows that these stings do nothing to deter sexual activity (actual monitoring by uniformed officers might, as would providing an alternative), but goes on to propose... more sex stings! Which is all great, because they're a waste of "police time and resources."
Besides the creepiness factor in the press praising police power instead of being reflexively skeptical of it, whoever wrote this obviously didn't think all to much about the issue. Which is one of the main reasons there's a conflict around this issue in the first place - no one really wants to think of a decent solution since complaining and arresting and complaining some more is a whole lot more fun. It works out in the end for local politicians who can say, in the next election, that at least they were doing something.