It appears that illegal multi-jurisdictional dragnet roadblocks are no longer just a phenomena of Southwestern Arizona. These intrusive suspicionless enforcement operations continue to proliferate in communities across America at an alarming rate. Worse yet, many are being paid for in full by so-called ‘Homeland Security’ grants designed more to commandeer local law enforcement for federal purposes than safeguard local communities.
Take for instance this multi-jurisdictional roadblock that took place in Washington County, Maine on May 14, 2007. According to the article, there were no less than six enforcement agencies involved – including three K-9 units. The agencies represented included:
- The Washington County Sheriff Department (Maine)
- The Rockport Police Department
- The Maine State Police
- The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency
- U.S. Customs
- U.S. Border Patrol
In a tortured interpretation of court rulings regarding suspicionless checkpoints, County Sheriff Don Smith claimed the roadblock in question was perfectly legal based on the following rational:
“There’s a difference between a checkpoint and a roadblock”, Sheriff Donnie Smith said Monday. “We have the legal right to check vehicles. We go to secondary check if for some reason they stand out, that’s legal”, Smith said.
What Sheriff Smith fails to mention is that the Supreme Court has only created 4th amendment loopholes for suspicionless sobriety and immigration checkpoints. The court has never authorized suspicionless checkpoints for the purpose of general crime control and have in fact struck down roadblocks that included drug interdiction as part of the operation.
So what kind of roadblock do we have in this case? Sheriff Smith was only too happy to tell us:
“What we are doing, we’re just doing an overall check. We’re looking for anything suspicious from illegal aliens, drug trafficking and safety checks.”
The above quote coupled with the fact that the roadblock was paid for in full from an $80,000 federal ‘homeland security’ grant makes it clear this checkpoint was in fact illegal – even by U.S. Supreme Court standards:
Indianapolis V. Edmund: Because the checkpoint program’s primary purpose is indistinguishable from the general interest in crime control, the checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment.
The only real question is whether or not the good people of Washington County, Maine will continue to allow their elected county sheriff to violate the law and abridge the right of the people to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Or will they hold Sheriff Smith and his band of highway men accountable for their transgressions against individual rights.