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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is the Lake County(Florida) Sheriff's Department. They get the award for the following.

TAVARES -- A sixth-grader's crudely made balloon slingshot turned into a "deadly weapon" when the boy fired the contraption at another student, authorities said Monday.

Lake deputy sheriffs say Kevin Cottle, 11, a student at Tavares Middle School, used his toy as a weapon when he hit another boy in the chest Friday at school. A report from the incident said the slingshot's plastic pellet left a welt on the other student, whose name wasn't released Monday.

Now Kevin faces charges of shooting or throwing a deadly missile, a second-degree felony, and as much as three weeks in an Ocala juvenile-detention center while awaiting his next court hearing. Outraged by his arrest, Kevin's mother, Pam Cottle, said authorities "went off the deep end," carting her shivering son off in handcuffs and keeping him locked up until next month.

"He doesn't have a clue -- he's 11 years old," Cottle said. "You have to have rules, but to arrest him and charge him with this. . . . You don't give a person the electric chair for stealing chickens."

Lake sheriff's spokeswoman Sgt. Christie Mysinger on Monday defended the decision to arrest the boy.

"If it's a homemade device that's slinging at such a rate that causes a welt under his clothing, that's a pretty hard hit," Mysinger said.

Plus, she said, the school-resource deputy at Tavares Middle conferred with the State Attorney's Office, which agreed the circumstances met the charge's criteria.

Prosecutors said they couldn't comment on the specifics of Kevin's case. But the charge itself -- throwing a deadly missile -- automatically placed Kevin at the Ocala facility, instead of releasing him to his parents on home detention.

Samuel Oliver, the Tavares lawyer representing Kevin, called the deputy's arrest report "completely outrageous." He added, "I can't ever remember seeing an allegation that was stretched so far."

I hate to tell Mr. Oliver the zero tolerance policy used by schools often means no brains. The case of Kevin Cottle is a prime example. The boy is facing a second degree felony charge for what he did? Suspend him, but this is one big overreaction.

Orlando Sentinel Columnist Lauren Ritchie, last seen at TFM for her excellent coverage of the Melinda and Trenton Duckett tragedy, is right on target again.

This is justice? No. This is irrational. It is wrong on so many levels.

This is no felony. The deputy never should even have considered an arrest. The State Attorney's Office, which advised her on what charges were possible, should have told her so.

Where was common sense?

This is a childhood prank. Bad judgment and foolishness are what children are all about. The Tavares Middle School resource officer should have taken this kid by the scruff of the neck, hauled him to the principal's office and called his mom or dad immediately. Kevin should have been read the riot act and punished, probably suspended -- but not saddled with a serious felony charge that could dog him for the rest of his life.

No wonder kids aren't learning right from wrong. How can they be expected to judge intelligently when the instant anything happens every adult in sight blows like Mount Vesuvius on a destructive day?
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board agrees.

But common sense has its place, too, and officials blew it when they reported an 11-year-old student at Tavares Middle School to law-enforcement authorities for using a homemade slingshot to fire a plastic pellet at another boy.

Now, the state attorney is trying to decide whether to prosecute the child on charges of throwing or shooting a deadly missile, a second-degree felony. Come on.

Yes, the student was wrong. He broke the rules by bringing his "weapon," crafted from a balloon stretched over the top half of a milk jug, to school. And he was out of line when he fired a plastic pellet at a fellow student, hitting him so hard it left a welt.

He was disruptive and he deserves punishment -- suspension, expulsion, whatever the school system deemed appropriate.

But criminal charges?

Why not call his parents in for a meeting with the principal? How about demanding a written apology? Or an essay on the dangers of school violence? Tack on whatever punishment any good parent would impose and that should be more than enough to learn a lesson.

Zero-tolerance has morphed into zero common sense, zero understanding, and zero distinction between childish misbehavior and serious violations.
The arrest of Kevin Cottle again shows again the lack of common sense in America's legal system today. Since the Lake County Sheriff's Department arrested the boy, it only makes sense to make them today's Knucklehead of the Day.

Linked to- Amboy Times, Basil, Big Dog, Cao, Jo, Maggie, Outside the Beltway, Pirate's Cove, Pursuing Holiness, Random Yak, Right Voices, Right Wing Nation, Samantha Burns, Stop the ACLU, Third World County, Uncooperative Blogger, Woman Honor Thyself, The World According to Carl,

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