Police Officer Jason Jarvis of the Hattiesburg Police Department just received an award from the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. Officer Jarvis had 23 arrests for DUI in a two week period in 2015 and also had the most arrests in the state of Mississippi at 353. He has been with HPD for about two years. Officer Jarvis stated that the he takes pride in that fact that he gets impaired drivers off the road.
While the pursuit to take impaired drivers off the roads is a noble one, the problem lies in the fact that all the recognition for officers and monetary grants to officers and departments are tied to arrests only. Whether or not the person is actually found guilty plays no part. This incentives officers to simply arrest as many people for DUI as possible because they receive their recognition and rewards regardless of what happens at court. For those people who are actually innocent, the monetary costs, embarrassment and possible job loss they face is a unfair price to pay simply because an officer might be padding his stats so he can get the next award.
If we as a society required these types of awards and compensation to be tied to convictions as opposed to arrests, we force officers to be more diligent in their work and hopefully protect those who are truly innocent from another bureaucratic injustice.
James Robert Ferguson
Attorney at Law