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EDITORIAL: Washington, D.C., now has “straw” cops on the public payroll

Jokes about mall cops or rent-a-cops have been around for years. They even made a feature film comedy right here in Las Vegas on the subject.

But perhaps the members of those two honorable professions will be spared future ridicule with the recent development of the “straw” cop.

The Associated Press reports that the District of Columbia is one of at least 15 locales — including Seattle and various California jurisdictions — that have outlawed plastic straws over environmental concerns. Never mind that this feel-good measure will do virtually nothing to attack ocean pollution or save marine creatures. John Stossel reports that the United States is the source of only about 1 percent of the plastic waste floating in the Earth’s seas, and “only a tiny fraction comes from straws.”

Nevertheless, straw bans have in recent times become sort of a progressive litmus test for virtue-signaling activists. Would you expect anything less in 2019?

But what to do with restaurants that still offer the dreaded drinking devices? Santa Barbara officials initially instituted a punishment of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for the transgression before coming to their senses and backing off amid ridicule. Washington, D.C., meanwhile has assigned taxpayer-paid employees to root out dangerous straw merchants.

“Warning letters in hand, Zach Rybarczyk patrolled the food court at Union Station,” The AP chronicled last week, “looking for offenders. Past Auntie Anne’s, past Johnny Rockets. At Lotus Express, a Chinese food joint, Rybarczyk peeled the wrapper from a red straw and bent the end — the telltale giveaway. Plastic.”

Mr. Rybarczyk is an inspector for the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment. He’s one of the city’s three new “straw” cops.

Not surprisingly, they aren’t always well-received. “What is this, California?” the AP reported one restaurant customer said as Mr. Rybarczyk scolded a cashier. “All these laws are just spreading from California. Everything is getting taken away from us, man. This is so stupid.”

For now, the D.C. straw patrol will issue only warnings. The fines and citations will begin in July. At least Paul Blart now knows where to apply if he ever gets tired of prowling the corridors of the West Orange Pavilion Mall.

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