Friday, October 10, 2008

You don't get to control their lives just because they work for you

Phoenix, Arizona police officer Barry Scott tragically died four days after being injured in a boxing match against a Chandler firefighter at a charity event on September 12, in which cops fought firefighters in an event dubbed "Guns and Hoses". Officer Scott has been described as a very professional officer who treated the public with a lot of respect, so he will undoubtedly be sorely missed by the city he patrolled.

The incident appears to be a true accident, in that news accounts of the bout show the fighters at the event wearing headgear, mouthpieces and rib protectors, and attendees report that the referees were extremely conservative about stopping the fights if someone appeared overmatched. In other words, it was about as safe as a boxing match could be.

Those facts don't seem to be enough for the city of Chandler, though, because they're now looking at telling off-duty city personnel what they can and can't do on their own time, all because of what happened to Officer Scott, who didn't even work for them.

At least one person, Chandler Assistant City Manager Richard Dlugas, seems to see the futility of trying to tell free adults what to do when they're not working:

"'They're off-duty. They're signing waivers. If we do try to develop some type of policy or something, what would it include? I just don't know,' he said.

If the city does draft a policy, it's unclear where to draw the line. Hockey games? Football games? Does it extend to non-organized or non-charity events?"

That's pretty much how we see it, as well. How about riding motorcycles, rock-climbing or skydiving, for that matter? There is an element of risk to just about every fun activity in life. It seems like a very slippery slope to start interfering in what people choose to do in their spare time, given that the activity is legal and especially if the participants have been given informed consent of the possible risks involved.

Just because someone works for a government agency shouldn't be a reason for that same government to impose restrictions on what they choose to do with their lives when not on duty. Private businesses don't get to do that, and neither should the public overlords.

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

Yes, it is ridiculous that the government is getting into this issue and considering creating additional, unnecessary layers to bureaucracy. Aren't there more pressing issues in the east valley?

Secondly, this just adds to the continued coverage about Barry, which is upsetting to family and friends. Please let us grieve in peace.