University of Miami Fake Cocaine Prank Leads to Real Arrest

This is why we don't yank cops' chains, everyone. They're brutal hecklers. 


Yet another entry in journalism’s 30-plus-year struggle to disabuse the public of propaganda spread over seven Police Academy films: Please remember that cops quite often do not have a sense of humor. Just the opposite!

We remind you of these intractable fact of life in the wake of the case of University of Miami student Jonathan Harrington. The 21-year-old English major decided that the college’s standard dorm searches were a good opportunity for a practical joke — in this case, a tableau of cut lines of white powdered sugar laid out on a coffee table along with a rolled-up dollar bill and seven white pills he says were aspirin.

Unfortunately, there is little crossover between Harrington’s curriculum, which rewards recognizing satire with essays on guys like Jonathan Swift, and police curriculums, which emphasize entirely different skill sets. He was taken to jail on felony cocaine possession. Harrington told the Miami New Times the set-up was no more than “23.7 grams of the finest (powdered sugar) you can buy.”

Maybe this wouldn’t be funny if part of the joke didn’t land on Harrington. Police tested the sugar lines and got a positive result for, um, coke.

Harrington insists there’s no way he’d leave all those drugs out in real life because, come on guys, he’s not stupid or something. “To them it is more plausible that I left $1,500 worth of cocaine strewn around my apartment,” he told New Times.

Harrington claims the police test had to be a false positive, which isn’t unheard of happening in the field. Regardless, he still has an arraignment hearing next week for one felony count of cocaine possession. That’s a maximum five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, not to mention what the school does to him. Wocka wocka wocka.

The don’t-screw-with-cops lesson is one that needs to be reiterated every so often. Last year, NYC prankster Alexander Bok ended up frisked and thrown to the ground when he thought midtown police would be down with his Ellen-inspired “dance dare.” Hoax 911 calls waste thousands in time and resources and can put the perpetrators in prison. Sure there are the outliers. This guy who told the police he had a trunk full of coke only to have the officer find Coca-Cola and laugh it off. But the good humor only came after the jokester was in handcuffs. Please, please, please remember: Cops are humorless, self-serious enforcers because that’s exactly how we train them to be. Tread lightly.

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