A city famously known for its surfing may try to tackle the city’s infamous issue of DUI fatalities by publically shaming those convicted of drinking and driving on Facebook. A councilman in the city of Huntington Beach, California has proposed publically posting the mug shots of individuals who have been arrested for DUI more than once. While the proposal is novel, it has been met with privacy concerns and concerns by the city’s police department that it may disaffect city residents.
The councilman that came up with the proposal said that if shaming people saves lives then the measure should be passed. The city of Huntington Beach’s second name is Surf City and the city is crowded with bars. The population Huntington Beach is around 200,000 and among 56 similarly sized cities in California it ranks number one in DUI related traffic fatalities.
Two years ago in 2009, nearly 200 people were killed or injured in traffic accidents that involved drinking and driving. During that same year, nearly 1,700 arrests were made for driving under the influence. A local criminal defense attorney says there is a saying in the city, “Come to Huntington Beach on vacation, leave on probation.” The idea for the electronic public shaming was created when the local newspaper stopped printing arrests. So far, only a few of the worst offenses of DUI have been posted and those were cases where the suspect had not been arrested and police believed the suspect was a danger to the public.
The police department is not in favor of the public shaming policy because the department believes it could have negative consequences on the already successful relationship it has with the public in Huntington Beach. The city’s police officers have found the department’s Facebook page as a beneficial tool in gathering tips and disseminating information to the public. The police department worries that users of the department’s page could be repelled by regular public shaming of DUI offenders.
Source: Star Tribune, “Post This on Facebook? Calif. Surf City Considers Electronic Wall of Shame for DUI Mug Shots,” Thomas Watkins, 1/18/11