fortwayne.com
Use of bogus drug checkpoints raises concern
Fri Aug 8 16:13:33 2003
64.140.159.11

Posted on Fri, Aug. 08, 2003
Use of bogus drug checkpoints raises concern
Officials say goal is to deter trafficking.
From The Associated Press
http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/newssentinel/news/local/6488832.htm

The state's top civil liberties group is concerned about police using fake checkpoints to flush out people carrying drugs.

A sham checkpoint went up this week on southbound I-65 near the Marion County line, netting at least one driver police said had marijuana.

A multiagency law enforcement team set it up so that any drivers hoping to avoid the bogus checkpoint must make an illegal U-turn or try to make an unsafe exit.

Either way, officers stand ready to pull them over.

Authorities say they will let drivers go who have committed no crime, but they believe they'll catch their share of drug dealers and at least deter drug traffickers.

"All we're doing is observing any conduct," said Maj. Scott Robinett of the Marion County Sheriff's Department. "We set up traffic enforcement zones to interdict any illegally transported narcotics."

Attorneys said the ruse was legal, Robinett said, before they moved ahead with the plan.

But the approach bothered John Krull, executive director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union.

"What they're threatening to do is something illegal, in the hopes of pushing people to do an illegal activity," Krull said. "Obviously, I'd like to see our legal staff take a look. It might meet the letter of law, but it clearly violates the spirit."

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that drunken-driving roadblocks and random drug testing are allowed under the U.S. Constitution.

But three years ago, the country's highest court, ruling in an Indianapolis case, refused to expand those roadblocks to include random checks for drugs.

Robinett, who commands covert operations for the sheriff's department, said he hopes the public will see the stops as a benefit.

This week, deputies set up the bogus checkpoints in northwestern Marion County and parts of Boone and Hendricks counties, on a key artery 169 miles southeast of Chicago, a potential source of illegal drugs headed to the area.

The first fake checkpoint opened Wednesday. In three hours, police stopped 16 vehicles.

Officials said a 39-year-old Lafayette woman was arrested on a preliminary charge of marijuana possession and received tickets after a deputy said he saw her drive south down I-65, see the signs, cross the median and turn into the northbound lanes.

A handful of other motorists received traffic tickets.
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