Teen Forced to Beat Cop at Rock, Paper, Scissors to Avoid Underage Drinking Citation


Captain Jake / Vine

A Burleson County, Texas, police officer allegedly played high-stakes Rock, Paper, Scissors with an underage girl caught drinking alcohol at a music festival, Chilifest. reported that the officer planned to give the girl a citation if she lost the game. She won, so the officer moved on. In this short video, the surrounding crowd can be seen erupting into cheers.

Precinct Constable Dennis Gaas does not endorse such activities, and promised that the officers involved will not work security at Chilifest next year. It's unclear whether they will suffer any other consequences. Their names were not reported.

Making someone win a game in order to avoid arrest is obviously cruel and inappropriate. But it also signals to me that even the police don't treat underage drinking very seriously. If an infraction of the law is so minor that the cops are willing to leave the enforcement of it up to chance, there's probably something wrong with that law.

Hat tip: The Huffington Post

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  1. But it also signals to me that even the police don’t treat underage drinking very seriously.

    I have a feeling that it signals that they don’t take anything but their authoritah very seriously. Like, finding the person who stole your TV doesn’t seem high on their priorities list, for instance.

    1. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he was being cool.

      How? I’m going to go with the notion that he thinks a criminal offense for underage drinking is not an appropriate response, so he made up a way to get the kids attention and issue a warning that they would remember. So in my made-up narrative the cop agrees that there is something wrong with the law and is exercising his own form of nullification.

      That being said, in my narrative he also walks around the corner and runs into three 15 year old boys wearing jean jackets with weed patches passing around a couple of airline bottles of Stolichnaya. Because the boys are boys and also scruffy looking and clearly up to no good, he detains them and takes them to the station for underage drinking. They are also searched incident to arrest and although no drugs are found, one of the young men has a pack of rolling papers and a lighter on him, so he is cited for possession of drug paraphernalia. Also in my narrative Amanda Marcotte reads of this pair of interactions and declines to write an opinion piece in response.

      1. Agreed. Considering that he apparently didn’t have a problem with being filmed, I doubt he was looking to do much besides scare her a little and maybe draw some attention to the fact it was illegal. Honestly, I think his response was pretty reasonable, considering, even if it could be argued that it was arbitrary.

        One thing we do here that bothers me is that we bash cops for both blind adherence to the letter of the law and for arbitrarily enforcing the law, too often without considering the totality of circumstances. There’s always going to be some level of individual judgment by cops in enforcing laws…deciding whether punishment is merited or some alternative measure might work better. Sometimes that leads to really dumb or horrible decisions on their part, but sometimes they come up with a more appropriate solution than the law would provide. I think this instance is an example of the latter.

        1. He was being cool. The fact underage drinking is a misdemeanor in many places is more messed up than anything the cop did.
          The Police are the arbiters on underage drinking, They hold enormous power, able to screw this person’s life up for having a beer. They are hard to get out of.

          Once written up in my state the first one is 100’s of dollars, alcohol counseling, and 2 points on the license.
          The 3rd one cost over $1500, with weekly counseling, 2 more points, license suspension, restriction of license for 1 year total, probation with the threat of jail along with random drug testing at $25 dollars a pop.

          First hand account of the MIP/DUI racket.

  2. Maybe it was a field sobriety test.

    1. This

  3. Eh, seems more like the cop realized a close call would do just as much good as jail time. If he just let her off with a warning she would have thought she could talk her way out of arrest in the future. By making it a game of chance he got the benefit of not tossing her in jail while still making it clear that she very well could if she ever repeats the actions.

    1. Color me skeptical. And even if his intentions were as you claim, reducing justice to Wheel of Fortune is not the ethical system I would want a society’s law enforcement to be based on. Would you?

      1. Unfortunately what we’re instead getting is justice reduced to every infraction instantly leading to a physical altercation and sometimes death.

        The post says “citation” so i’m not sure what the real consequences were here.

        Unfortunately what we’re going to get the next time is 100% citations and no officer discretion– procedures will be followed.

      2. No, but there is nothing ethical about arresting people for drinking or drugs either.

        Even if the technique is a bit cruel and capricious, I count it as a net good if fewer people are caught up in the system for bullshit non-crimes.

    2. Yeah.

      Note that “Making someone win a game in order to avoid arrest is obviously cruel and inappropriate” is true – but “the officer planned to give the girl a citation if she lost the game” is not about an arrest.

      Citations are tickets. Not arrests.

      Doing rock-paper-scissors has a better chance of not ending up paying a fine than just getting cited; I’ll take that any day of the week.

      Nobody seems to be annoyed by the ability to talk your way out of a citation, or the officer ‘just deciding to not give you one’, even law-and-order types.

      So why the fuss over making it a joke?

      1. And, *technically* she was already arrested – that’s what the stop is. Like a traffic stop – you’ve already been arrested, but you may get a ticket and let go.

        1. No. She was detained, that is clear, but a temporary detention is not automatically an arrest. There is no clear line between the two, and attorneys and judges will manipulate that line to suit their positions, but there is a distinction.

        2. And now you’re just making shit up.

  4. I’m guessing they wrote over 100 MIPs at ChiliFest (as they have in years past), so I’d say they’re still taking it pretty seriously.

  5. Of all the offenses they commit, this one is pretty low on my list.

    1. Fuck..

  6. One wonders if the game, when there’s a crowd around, is rock-paper-scissors, but it’s hide-the-weasel when there’s not.

  7. Rothbard had a thing about stalwart cops being less optimal than cops willing to accept bribes… a cop willing to forego an arrest for a victimless quote-unquote crime is on the whole more optimal still.

  8. Oh, well, as long as enforcement of the law is arbitrary anyways

  9. It makes about as much sense as, “Tip your head back, and touch your nose.”

  10. Of course, it makes no difference how drunk or sober you are, if you have not yet attained the Magic Birthday. What a load of preposterous hogwash.

    1. Agreed about the drinking age, but the officer in this case isn’t responsible for crafting that law, just enforcing it. I think he found a reasonable middle ground.

      1. “but the officer in this case isn’t responsible for crafting that law, just enforcing it.”

        Would people please stop stripping humans of any agency whatsoever and then turning them loose on their neighbors with guns. It’s not nice.

        1. I don’t think he was crediting him for his agency in lieu of it being stripped away by others in an equally/more arbitrary fashion.

        2. I *think* he was crediting him for his agency…

      2. At central michigan university the cops instead of citing you for an underage kegger would give you 24 hours to donate keg profits to charity and provide proof via receipt. extortion for a good cause.

        1. Profits? We never charged for beer. That would be a serious offense in texas.

          1. Nothing is free…don’t make me ask you about where free beer comes from.(if there is such a thing as a free

  11. Making someone win a game in order to avoid arrest is obviously cruel and inappropriate.

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and say that these may be the few cool cops on the force. Also, they didn’t say “arrest”, they said “citation”.

    You know, if more cops did this (especially when a law has been broken) I think society would have few unarmed people with bullet holes in their backs.

    I’m thinking Eric Garner would have been much better off had the police offered up a game of Rock/Paper/Scissors instead of immediately going for the choke-hold.

    1. I’m with you on this.

      I’d much rather be confronted with a game of rock paper scissors than any number of other outcomes.

    2. He never intended to bust her.

      He just wanted to give her a warning and take her drink away.

      Robby would scream at the cops for not using any discretion.

      Robby screams at them for using their discretion, too.

      There are real abusive cops in this world. There are real problems with cops looking the other way.

      This story doesn’t tell us anything about them.

      This story tells us about Robby.

      Robby is the new Weigel.

      1. Robby and several other of the Obama era Reason writers just seem to brainlessly latch on to any story involving a cop and try to paint them as the bad guys. Weigel certainly had issues but he was not that bad.

  12. Better than zero-tolerance, I’d say. As long as the cops aren’t doing the same for vandals and burglars, I can’t get upset about this.

    Watching the video made me smile. I can recall a few close calls narrowly avoiding the law at around that age. The relief on her face is precious.

  13. And it’s fukin’ Chillfest. Chill baby. I think part of the job of the rentacops working concerts and festivals is to be a little bit chill. No need to arrest or cite paying customers if they aren’t causing trouble.

    1. C h i l i fest. This font kills when I’s and i’s are in close proximity.

      1. I’ll be damned.

  14. He was probably going to let her off anyway, even if she lost.

    1. Jesus, I’d hope so. Even for a cop that would be a dick move.

  15. Wow the cop lost? He should guess she wouldn’t pull scissors…looks too much like a gun…and she would be a corpse now.

  16. Meh. Not clear in 10 sec of video, but it’s certainly conceivable that this was a good action by security. It’s during the day – pretty early by the lighting. Not a bad idea to remind people to keep things from getting out of hand at that time of day. Have fun, but don’t puke on the other patrons. (At least – at the festivals I’ve been to, being puked on wasn’t considered part of the fun. There are other kinds of festival, I suppose.)

  17. Oh, ferchrissake! The cop was cutting her a break. Cruel and unusual? {LOL}

  18. They might have just been clowning around. We don’t know that they actually would have given her the citation if she lost. And enforcement of laws is typically up to chance, anyway.

  19. Yes Robo Suave…Cops can be human beings. Smoke a doob and contemplate libertarians in space.

  20. Is rock/paper/scissors really that different from making you walk a straight line?

  21. Is rock/paper/scissors really that different from making you walk a straight line?

  22. Is rock/paper/scissors really that different from making you walk a straight line?

  23. Sorry about the duplicates. Can’t delete them. Computer took so long I didn’t think my post went through.

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