By Claire Walla
Sag Harbor Village Police Detective Jeff Proctor made his way to the Pierson Middle/High School campus last Thursday, January 2 where he proceeded to Mrs. Duff’s second-floor classroom and stood face-to-face with 16 middle school students.
He wasn’t there to make an arrest, or investigate a case; he was there to educate the students on the consequences of their actions. From graffiti and trespassing to possession of marijuana, Det. Proctor discussed the legal ramifications for such crimes. And he explained how the justice system works.
Misdemeanors (like making graffiti) are punishable by up to one year in jail, he said, while felonies (like dealing drugs) are punishable by more than one year in prison.
“And there is a difference between jail and prison,” Det. Proctor cautioned, pointing out that the Riverhead Jail holds less extreme offenders than New York State prisons do.
The students commented sporadically on Det. Proctor’s presentation, offering up definitions for key phrases, like “peer” and “consequence” when asked to do so. And, after estimating that roughly 15 percent of their class probably smokes pot, they discussed the downsides to marijuana use. (Such suggested drawbacks included: “it affects how you act,” “you can get suspended,” “it makes you feel depressed,” “memory loss,” and “it’s expensive.”)
Finally, a student in the front row pepped up and questioned the detective about the examples he had been using throughout his presentation to illustrate his points, like the circumstance he described involving kids trespassing and spray-painting an abandoned building in the village.
“Where are you getting all these examples from?” the student asked.
“Where do you think?” Det. Proctor answered right back. “It happened!”