Don't Do the Crime If You're Drunk and It's Light Outside

I love stories about stupid criminals -- you know, the guy who gets stuck in a chimney while trying to steal Christmas presents and the thief who hands a stick-'em-up note to a bank teller written on a deposit slip for his own bank account. But I have noticed a dearth of truly imaginative stupid criminals in the last few years. Probably the fault of our woeful education system.

Instead, we get dumbos like 50-year-old Michael Wayne Edwards. He was arrested in March in my East Dallas neighborhood by an officer who noticed a suspicious vehicle cruising up and down the alleys. At noon. In broad daylight. The officer stopped the vehicle and discovered the scruffy driver was drunk. A few more taps of a computer and -- bingo! -- he learned that Edwards had a long history of DWI, burglary of homes and robbery.

In fact, Edwards had just gotten out of prison. Now his parole has been revoked. Back to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200 or a new DVD player. So, remarkably stupid criminal -- and thank goodness. But what's most scary about this: The guy was not spied by our crime watch program.

Truth is, most of those folks were probably at work. He was caught by an alert Dallas police officer hired by the neighborhood association to provide extra security. In other words, the officer was serving some folks who can afford to get better protection. (Still, even in our neighborhood fewer than 30 percent of the households contribute to the voluntary program.)

So maybe Edwards’ only dumb move was to cruise the wrong neighborhood. His arrest is just one more daily reminder that Dallas has one of the highest crime rates among large cities across the nation when it comes to murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary and theft.

The Dallas Morning News reported this morning that the Dallas Police Association has decided to poll its members for a no-confidence vote on Chief David Kunkle. The group’s biggest gripe: Officers feel they are being “handcuffed” by rules that prevent them from doing their job, like pursuing only criminals suspected in “violent felonies.” They claim the orders are based on extreme and unusual circumstances. Another big complaint: the lack of usable patrol cars. Officers may have to wait several hours to get a car to hit the streets.

In hindsight, it seems Edwards should have waited for shift change, picked a neighborhood without a safety patrol and driven like hell once he spotted a patrol car. Thanks goodness for stupid criminals. Otherwise, our crime rate would be even higher. --Glenna Whitley

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky