First read the link:
Now how do you feel about it? I'm horrified by it. Is La Crosse, WI that safe a town? Is there really nothing else for the police to be enforcing? Or is the reality a combination of "It's a college town and the kids are drinking too much" and "Hey, our budget's been slashed, let's raise some cash!" Truthfully, I think there are two things of note here: (Morality) Police inspection of our daily lives and the question of what constitutes privacy in an era of Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc.
In any community there needs to be a level of trust and forgiveness for policing to be effective. Look at our poorer communities and the active hostility and distrust between the people and the police. You can't tell me that doesn't hurt law enforcement efforts to clean up the gang situation and promote safety. Obviously, it won't erode to that extent in La Crosse, but it speaks to something that's changed. There's less tolerance these days for simple misbehavior. Partly its money and partly its because there's so much yelling about how soft on crime we are.
The Wire (quite possibly the finest TV show ever done) made one of the finest points on the war on drugs , Baltimore PD Major Bunny Colvin (serving as a foil for writer David Simon) talks about containing the drug war on the streets by creating "free zones" where things are kept in check. He compares the tactic to the "brown paper bag" that let cops ignore men drinking on the stoop and focus on keeping the peace in the community. (To watch the speech - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2fV-_eiKxE and then watch the whole show)
Granted, La Crosse isn't Baltimore, Los Angeles, etc, but I hate to think what happens when we forget that people as whole are creatures with a tenuous respect for the letters of legal matters instead of the spirit of them. A long time back I remember reading a J. Edgar Hoover quote, probably apocryphal, where he claimed that the average American broke a law every 30 seconds. And this would have been back before the giant web of cross-competing, endlessly stacking laws we see today had piled quite to their current Brobdignagian proportions.
Regarding privacy matters and the new generation. While the Constitutional "right to privacy" has been a matter of continuous debate, the line has always been that if you put it out in public, it's fair game - e.g. your trash and of course now your writings on social networks may be considered fair game. Of course, the question for the courts is for invitation systems (like Facebook) is there any right to privacy or expectation of freedom from surreptitious legal monitoring? What will this mean for the post Gen X'ers, the Millenials, who were raised on tweeting, texting, sharing and putting everything out there? Will this sort of policing have a chilling effect on a generation's sense of openness? (And would that necessarily be a bad thing? - I'm looking at you people who tweet that you're eating a burrito.)