DrugSense FOCUS Alert #192 December 7, 2000 

DrugSense FOCUS Alert #192 December 7, 2000 
Posted by FoM on December 07, 2000 at 11:59:34 PT
Lawless Law Enforcement Tries To Ignore Changes 
Source: MapInc.
As drug policy reform begin to gain popularity, it's not surprising to find some groups that benefit from the drug war refusing to accept the changing landscape. A couple of the most audacious of the drug war profiteers appear to be refusing to accept the will of the U.S. Supreme Court and the will of the people. The Sheriff of Rolla, Mo. has announced that he will continue to operate random drug checkpoints even though the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that such tactics are unconstitutional. 
As the excellent Kansas City Star article explains below, It's not surprising that the Sheriff can't let go of what has become a huge cash cow. Elsewhere, some Oregon newspapers have reported on a narcotics task force that has filed a lawsuit to fight state residents who voted to reform asset forfeiture. Clearly those officials have no sense of irony, as they are trying to claim that efforts to restrict asset forfeiture practices are "unconstitutional." Please write a letter to the Kansas City Star or the Oregonian to let these lawless law enforcement officials know that their contempt for basic justice and fairness is being observed around the world. WRITE A LETTER TODAYIt's not what others do it's what YOU do PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER OR TELL US WHAT YOU DID (Letter, Phone, Fax etc.)Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent letter list: sentlte if you are subscribed, or by E-mailing a copy directly to: MGreer Your letter will then be forwarded to the list with so others can learn from your efforts and be motivated to follow suit This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our impact and effectiveness. CONTACT INFO:Source: Kansas City Star (MO) Contact: letters EXTRA CREDIT:Please also write to the Oregonian to protest a drug task force's decision to legally challenge a ballot initiative that would reform asset forfeiture practices. US: OR: Suit says approved measure is illegal URL : Dec. 2, 2000 Source: Oregonian, The (OR) Contact: letters ARTICLEUS MO: Rolla-Area Sheriff Says He'll Continue Drug CheckpointsURL: Newshawk: Mark Greer Source: Kansas City Star (MO) Pubdate: Sun, 3 Dec 2000 Author: Karen Dillon, The Kansas City Star Copyright: 2000 The Kansas City Star Address: 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108 Contact: letters Website: Feedback: URL: Even though the U.S. Supreme Court last week outlawed roadblocks to check for drugs, the Phelps County Sheriff's Department in Rolla, Mo., apparently plans to continue checkpoints on Interstate 44. Sheriff Don Blankenship said last week in a Rolla newspaper article that he would continue the checkpoints, which have been so frequent that critics call him the "Sheriff of I-44." The ruling "shouldn't affect us because we have a different type of checkpoint" from the one the Supreme Court addressed, Blankenship was quoted as saying.Blankenship also said in the article that the U.S. attorney's office agreed with his interpretation. He did not return telephone calls from a reporter over the past week. Blankenship's decision runs counter to actions taken by several law enforcement organizations.The Missouri Highway Patrol said last week troopers would no longer conduct checkpoints and state Attorney General Jay Nixon agreed with that decision, a spokesman for Nixon said. The Missouri Sheriffs Association sent notices about the ruling to sheriffs in the state, and Executive Director James L. Vermeersch said he was planning to talk with Blankenship after hearing about his decision. The Missouri Police Chiefs Association has advised police agencies to stop the checkpoints while the ruling is being researched. However, Terri Dougherty, executive assistant to U.S. Attorney Audrey Fleissig in the Eastern District in St. Louis, confirmed it was her office that advised Blankenship he could continue the roadblocks. She declined further comment.Blankenship did not attend a Phelps County Commission meeting Thursday. Commissioners had wanted to discuss the high court ruling with him, the presiding commissioner said. The American Civil Liberties Union branch in St. Louis will address the Phelps County action, an official said. Attorneys for the ACLU in Indianapolis won the Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday. "We certainly intend to share with the sheriff our view with how the Supreme Court decision applies to his checkpoints and encourage him to stop them," said Matt LeMieux, executive director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri."Even if the Justice Department gave him the go-ahead, I don't think it changes the fact that the practice appears to conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling."In the 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Indianapolis' use of checkpoints -- intended to catch drug criminals -- was an unreasonable search and seizure that violated the Fourth Amendment. According to the ruling, it is the purpose of a checkpoint that determines whether it is constitutional.Justice Sandra Day O'Connor distinguished drug checkpoints from sobriety roadblocks.The sobriety roadblocks, O'Connor wrote, protect the public from an "immediate, vehicle-bound threat to life and limb." But drug checkpoints are attempts to find evidence that a crime occurred and thus serve only law enforcement's need for crime control, she wrote.In Indianapolis, the checkpoints were staged like sobriety checkpoints, with police and drug-sniffing dogs stopping each vehicle along a thoroughfare.Law enforcement officers in Phelps County and other locations in Missouri say they commonly use deception to create the necessary suspicion to be able to search cars. The officers set up a sign just before a highway exit that warns a drug checkpoint is ahead. However, the checkpoint is actually at the end of the exit.Motorists, especially those from out of state, who take the exit appear to be avoiding the checkpoint, Blankenship said in a previous interview with The Star. Those drivers have created reasonable suspicion to be stopped and possibly searched, especially if they cannot explain why they took the exit, Blankenship said. Because his officers have a reason to suspect each vehicle they search, that makes the Phelps County checkpoints different from Indianapolis, Blankenship told the Rolla newspaper. But the ACLU's LeMieux said the purpose of the checkpoints is no different from Indianapolis."If the purpose is to find evidence of a crime then it is unconstitutional," LeMieux said. "It is quite clear that the purpose of the Phelps County checkpoints is to find criminal evidence -- drugs in this case."The Star reported in October that Blankenship, who was running for re-election, was criticized by opponents and others for spending so much time on Interstate 44 conducting the checkpoints instead of patrolling the county.The critics also said Blankenship's checkpoints stemmed from the benefit his office received from the cash and property his deputies seized.Blankenship said that the checkpoints, which he ran at least twice a week, were valuable in the war on drugs and had no effect on other crime control.Blankenship said his deputies had taken thousands of pounds of illegal narcotics off the interstate.SAMPLE LETTERTo the editor of the Kansas City Star: Thanks to Karen Dillon for all the work she has done to expose asset forfeiture practices.I thought the efforts of law enforcement to hold onto forfeited assets despite state law to the contrary was outrageous enough, but now we learn that the Phelps County Sheriff's Department in Rolla feels it does not need to abide by a U.S. Supreme Court decision banning random drug checkpoints ("Rolla-Area Sheriff Says He'll Continue Drug Checkpoints," Dec.3).In some ways, it is possible to sympathize with law enforcement officials who have been given the impossible task of creating a "drug-free America." Since illegal drug users often don't look any different from other citizens, the obvious response is to put everyone under suspicion. And since politicians have made this into a holy war, it's not surprising that some police think any tactics are fair game, and that they deserve to get a cut of the black market windfall being generated by drug prohibition.However, this dependence on forfeiture money is eroding law enforcement's respect for the law itself, and the general public. Police should not decide which laws they will enforce (and which court decisions they will abide) based on their own financial self-interest. We should end the drug war and allow police to determine priorities based on public safety, not their own economic bottom line. Stephen YoungIMPORTANT: Always include your address and telephone numberPlease note: If you choose to use this letter as a model please modify it at least somewhat so that the paper does not receive numerous copies of the same letter and so that the original author receives credit for his/her work. ADDITIONAL INFO to help you in your letter writing efforts3 Tips for Letter Writers: Letter Writers Style Guide: TO SUBSCRIBE, DONATE, VOLUNTEER TO HELP, OR UPDATE YOUR EMAIL SEE: UNSUBSCRIBE SEE: Prepared by Stephen YoungFocus Alert Specialist Related Article: Sheriff Says He'll Continue Drug Checkpoints FOCUS Alert # 191 December 3, 2000 FOCUS Alert #190 November 18, 2000 MapInc. Archives
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Comment #3 posted by defenderoffreeworld on December 08, 2000 at 08:58:04 PT:
holy f--k!!!
what's going on over here? we are ignoring the ruling of the supreme court? what the hell is this? when it has come to the point were we ignore the rulings of what is probably the highest law enforcing authority in the nation, then we know we are in trouble. its funny, cause i usually think of these sort of people as not really human, as if they are run by remote control, you know? like little freakin puppets that are brainwashed and dragged around by the nose. i can't believe what i just read
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Comment #2 posted by Ripper on December 07, 2000 at 17:03:03 PT
Lieutenant William Dudingston served the Royal Navy well. And by so doing, brought on what might be called a preliminaryaction of the American Revolution in the year 1772. With admirable vigilance, Dudingston spotted, pursued, and capturedsmugglers who operated among the many tricky channels and rocky coves of Rhode Island Narragansett Bay. And servedhimself well,too. When his swift patrol ship, the revenue cutter Gaspee, succeeded in catching one of the smugglers, and thevictim's goods were sold after court action, Lieutnant Dudingson got a handsome share of the proceeds. He was fierce towardAmerican merchentmen who dared bring in such goods as molasses from the French West Indies. For he was determined toforce obedience to the Acts of Trade, which sought to keep colonial business within the confines of the British mercantilesystem. And he was equally fierce toward skippers of whatever law-abiding ships he stopped and inspected-for who new whatthey might be carrying. The colonist had begun to demonstrate a rebellious mood, and the navy must be on the alert. Thisofficiousness was intolerable for such enterprising merchants as John Brown of Providence. His firm Nicholas Brown andCompany, had been doing business in many parts of the world for the better part of the century. His ships, and those of otherRhode Islanders, would one day reach china and the east Indies and were presently plying between Europe, Africa and theWest Indies. If the cargo from Africa often consisted of slaves, and if the cargo from the Antilles was not always Britishproduced- wasn't that the way fortunes were made? On the afternoon of June 9 1772, Lieutenant Dudingston pressed his luck abit to far when chasing a smuggler close to shore: he ran aground on a sand pit below Providence. Hearing of the Gasspee'saccident, John Brown recalled how Rohde Ilanders had wrecked another costomes boat some four years earlier. And,collecting a band of armed men ready for any action against the crown, He rowed out to the helpless ship, wounded thelieutenant and set the Gaspee ablaze. Somehow the culprits could not be found, even though the outraged British cabinetdemanded that the offenders be brought to justice they offered a 500 pound reward. Parliment, for its part, had declared 4months before that setting fire to a navy vessel was a treasonous crime, punishable by death. The investigation accomplishednothing, besides persuading many Americans by the severity of its language that England was determined to put a noose aroundthe neck of all who believed in freedom. The Gaspee assault was but a prelude to many other battles, including the one on April19, 1775, at Concord and Lexington which is generaly treated as the opening ingagement of the American Revolution. Thissounds very much like the drug war to me. What do you think? 
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Comment #1 posted by TroutMask on December 07, 2000 at 12:20:31 PT
The ruling "shouldn't affect us because we have a different type of checkpoint" from the one the Supreme Court addressed, Blankenship was quoted as saying.He's right. The roadblocks covered by the Supreme Court decision were set up to stop and check every person. The roadblocks used by Blankenship ONLY check people who apparently try to avoid them. The roadblock is set up on a highway exit ramp after a sign stating clearly "Warning Drug Checkpoint Ahead." While I don't believe that ANY drug checkpoint is constitutional, there is a clear distinction between the type of check rule upon by the US Supreme Court and the type of check still in use by Blankenship. I believe that it will take another court case to rule upon this different type of roadblock. I am not supporting Blankenship's position in conducting drug checkpoints, but I support his statement that they are a "different kind of checkpoint."
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