DUI arrests won’t go public
A divided Huntington Beach City Council on Tuesday opposed a proposal to shame repeat drunk drivers by posting photos of them on Facebook.
The council voted 4 to 3 against the plan to send names and images of repeat offenders to the Police Department’s social networking page.
Councilman Keith Bohr had concerns about the city’s reputation among visitors, most of whom are responsible.
“I don’t want any of these reporters coming out and saying we voted to put DUI offenders on Facebook, period,” Bohr said.
Critics had called the proposal a way to use shame drunken drivers and their families, while supporters said the idea could deter the crime and save lives.
Councilmen Don Hansen, Devin Dwyer and Matthew Harper formed the minority that supported the plan.
Dwyer said he came up with the idea after the Huntington Beach Independent stopped publishing DUI arrests. The Independent suspended the practice a little more than a year ago, arguing in an editorial that the practice was arbitrary when applied to a single crime.
The department’s Facebook page has received about 120,000 views in the last month and has helped put the word out in several cases not involving drunk driving, said Police Chief Ken Small.
For Small, the question wasn’t about shame, but whether posting this information is going to keep Huntington Beach’s residents and visitors safe.
“Would posting and making this available to the public potentially increase public safety in Huntington Beach? If the answer to that is yes, then we think Facebook might be a good mechanism for us to post that information,” he said.
Bohr said posting the information might not be effective because addicts and repeat drunk drivers could care less about damage to their reputations.
Councilwoman Connie Boardman had concerns about the relatives of alcoholics.
“Children of alcoholics live in a private hell as it is, and I don’t want this city to make it any worse for them,” she said.
Councilman Don Hansen wasn’t ready to shut the door on the potential of Facebook. He said if the city is fine with posting the picture of a sexual predator or a burglar, it should be comfortable with posting the pictures of someone who poses a threat to innocent lives.
He suggested leaving the issue up to the police chief and his staff to decide who should be placed on Facebook by not voting on it, but his suggestion failed.
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