Illegal barbering? Let's focus on real crime problems

Are you sleeping more soundly this week?

I know I am, now that the Orange County Sheriff's Office has concluded an unprecedented sweep of barbershops that yielded nearly three-dozen charges of … wait for it … criminal barbering.

Sure, homicides are up 45 percent this year. But why focus on those taking human lives when we have scofflaws improperly taking out cowlicks?

I don't want to downplay the tragic results of a bad coif, because I've certainly seen haircuts that looked criminal.

But before last week, I thought that had more to do with Justin Bieber as a trendsetter than actual illegal activity.

Yet, as the Sentinel's Jeff Weiner reported last Sunday, the Orange County Sheriff's Office made history by arresting 35 people on misdemeanor charges of "barbering without a license" after spending several months on the matter.

To put that in perspective, Jeff checked the records and found that only three other people in the entire state went to jail on the same charges in the past decade.

And, according to witnesses, some of these arrests were the result of warrantless sweeps where officers swarmed shops that had kids inside, slapping handcuffs on barbers.

Can you imagine?

You've taken little Johnny in for a $9 touch-up, and suddenly, it's: "Put your hands up! And step away from the clippers!"

Part of what makes this so frustrating is that there are many law-enforcement advocates who push to give the cops more resources.

I'm one of them.

On multiple occasions, I've suggested giving the Sheriff's Office more money, even going so far as to rewrite state laws, so that hotel taxes can be used in a way to keep both visitors and residents safe.

But never did I imagine this money would be used to take on Supercuts.

Except it wasn't Supercuts, was it?

No, these sweeps targeted shops in the poorer parts of town, predominantly black- and Hispanic-owned shops in the Pine Hills area.

Perhaps it's tempting to rationalize this by saying: "That's where the crime is, right?"

Except, once again, it wasn't.

At least not in these cases.

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