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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 15, 2010

HPD made right decision on DUI site

Some risks are not worth taking, and driving while drunk certainly rises near the top of any list of stupid and indefensible acts.

That was the point the Honolulu Police Department wanted to hammer home, so it took a risk a worthy one in the hope that a public shaming might keep people from making a careless decision that could prove deadly.

Creating an online gallery of people arrested for driving under the influence was a gutsy move, but HPD made the right decision last week to shut down the page after less than four months into a six-month pilot program.

The department had tried to minimize the potential for mischief by posting the arrests only once a week and then removing them after a day.

But trying to control information in cyberspace is a fool's errand. It was only a matter of time before someone lifted the photos and gave them lives of their own, creating a popular Facebook page with the photos creatively manipulated.

Checking out the Wednesday mugshots was a guilty pleasure, providing a quick laugh and a bracing shot of schadenfreude. But it was a cheap high, seeing frightened, befuddled people in their most vulnerable moment.

There's no data showing that the humiliation achieved its noble end; every week, dozens of new photos showed up on the page.

But police should not relent on another stated goal: bringing more public records within easy reach.

The names of those arrested for drunken driving are available for public viewing at police stations, so there's no reason why police shouldn't put them online as many Mainland departments already do.