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Old 23rd December 2016, 09:25   #1
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Default The rise of 'unconstitutional' checkpoints in America

I don't watch much television these days, but I do watch a bit of YouTube now and then and these days videos of American citizens video-recording unconstitutional checkpoints when driving their vehicles are all the rage, literally.

The check-points started out in certain states bordering Mexico and have spread to other cities for completely no reasons as well. The original intent was to have an unpredictable check-point laid out randomly to filter out narcotics-carrying motor vehicles that have escaped the real border checkpoints. However the police seem to have cast their net so wide that they're ticking off the citizens of their own country, and they're even beginning to call it the birth of "police state". America being a country where long drives in a car exceeding 1000 miles is no surprise, is suddenly putting a lot of pressure on some of its drivers to stop and surrender for basic interrogation which can take up to 45-60 minutes in total depending on the number of cars in queue.

The dilemma here is again, uncertain legal rights which protect the citizens yer give power to the police and the army. Fourth Amendment of 1971 states that police cannot search, seize and harass a motorist without strong cause/reason to warrant such activity, however sobriety (not in a state of drunkennes) random checks aren't covered in this so the authority can always state that it was a sobriety check done to prevent accidents.

Here is one of the videos taken by a citizen, one of the few videos where there aren't expletives flying around (yes!) so posting here :



Here it appears that the level of interrogation or even assault depends on the preparedness/foolishness of the motorist. This is why those who aren't in a mood to cooperate always film the interaction so that they have legal protection in case things go wrong. Resistance without filming the incident have drivers claiming that their driver and passenger side windows were broken with them inside the cabin and then forced out of the vehicle to surrender to a full-body check and vehicle search as well.

I'm just posting this to encourage a debate as to what might really happen if the trust between the public and the government is lost, the authorities can pull up any vehicle on the basis of "guilty until proven otherwise" and the public can resist since they have the right to do so given by the constitution, yet the thin line of controversy, otherwise called the grey area will have them debate endlessly on who is right and who is wrong. Is this a sign of things to come globally? Also many more videos (by the hundreds) can be found of various interactions/clashes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Random_checkpoint
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Old 23rd December 2016, 15:04   #2
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Default Re: The rise of 'unconstitutional' checkpoints in America

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I'm just posting this to encourage a debate as to what might really happen if the trust between the public and the government is lost, the authorities can pull up any vehicle on the basis of "guilty until proven otherwise" and the public can resist since they have the right to do so given by the constitution, yet the thin line of controversy, otherwise called the grey area will have them debate endlessly on who is right and who is wrong. Is this a sign of things to come globally? Also many more videos (by the hundreds) can be found of various interactions/clashes.
With all that is happening in the world today, whats the harm if authorities are increasing checks everywhere. Why are people not realizing its for their own protection and good.

If you are a law abiding citizen (this goes for anyplace in the world) with nothing to hide, then why fear.

Cheers

Last edited by Cyborg : 23rd December 2016 at 15:05.
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Old 23rd December 2016, 15:12   #3
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Default Re: The rise of 'unconstitutional' checkpoints in America

This is what we call "nakabandi" here in India. Has been going on for ages, as far as I can remember. Mostly happens during festivals, rallys or if the police have a tip-off.

I think there is nothing wrong with this, as far as the cops are not being rude. And in my experience, most of the time they are not. So law-abiding citizens have nothing to worry.

I guess, with all that's happening around the world, this is now happening in the USA as well. One just needs to cooperate with the cops and move on. If you try to be over-smart then you are asking for trouble. Just show your papers, answer some questions and move on.

Not sure on what you mean by 'unconstitutional' checkpoints.
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Old 23rd December 2016, 15:41   #4
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Default Re: The rise of 'unconstitutional' checkpoints in America

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Originally Posted by Cyborg View Post
With all that is happening in the world today, whats the harm if authorities are increasing checks everywhere. Why are people not realizing its for their own protection and good.
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Originally Posted by ptushar View Post
I think there is nothing wrong with this, as far as the cops are not being rude. Not sure on what you mean by 'unconstitutional' checkpoints.
As long as this is for the protection from terrorism/crime, it is fine. But what if one day, a new government decides to use it against their political opponents? Anything that has the potential to be misused, will be misused. After this new system of checkpoints become well established, when someone starts misusing them, it would become too difficult to dismantle them.

In India, such check points may not be unconstitutional, given that we have umpteen exceptions to our fundamental rights. But in the US, with the due process clause in their constitution (compared to 'procedure established by law' in ours), government cannot just make a law and set up check points.

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As long as it's checking papers and answering few on the spot questions,what's the harm?
As long as it is just checking papers, then it is fine. But what if one day the government decides to profile the people that they dont like? The world has enough experience with despots, and all of the despots started their rule in the name of people. We can't be more cautious.

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Isn't that being speculative? With that logic then every action by the government can be taken to the extreme. But that doe snot mean that all action needs to be stopped.
Technically, every government in the world can go rouge, irrespective of the checks and balances in the constitution. But the fear of going rogue cannot be a reason for stopping the government from acting tough, when it is called for.
That is why I mentioned, as long as it is to prevent terrorism/crime. But acting against citizens with no intelligence input and with no reasonable suspicion is totally unconstitutional. Each and every major terror attack till now had so many intelligence warning before them. Eg: 9/11. Government had so much intelligence about the attack but they chose to ignore it. Acting in such a situation is very valid. But otherwise, it is despotic.

Last edited by deerhunter : 23rd December 2016 at 16:03.
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Old 23rd December 2016, 15:44   #5
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A sobriety check ideally can not lead to search and even if done any evidence out of it can be suppressed. Is that not the law?
Also, isn't it 'innocent until proven otherwise' with the proof of burden on the state.
As long as it's checking papers and answering few on the spot questions,what's the harm?
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Old 23rd December 2016, 15:55   #6
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Default Re: The rise of 'unconstitutional' checkpoints in America

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As long as this is for the protection from terrorism/crime, it is fine. But what if one day, a new government decides to use it against their political opponents?
Isn't that being speculative? With that logic then every action by the government can be taken to the extreme. But that doe snot mean that all action needs to be stopped.

Let's take an example. When I was in the USA in 1999, once could go right upto the plane with a passenger to bid goodbye. Can you do that today? See the kind of 'extreme' steps that are taken at US airports. Even the passengers are looked upon with suspicion and made to go through stringent checks, some of which can be downright humiliating. You think that people on the ground, who actually carry out the checks, are not at times selective in identifying people for additional checks? But we all know and we all accept that this is needed. One puts that much trust in the government and go along with it. And one much accept that it will not be 100% perfect. There will be rotten apples, but that should not deter the government or the people.

Technically, every government in the world can go rouge, irrespective of the checks and balances in the constitution. But the fear of going rogue cannot be a reason for stopping the government from acting tough, when it is called for.
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Old 23rd December 2016, 16:23   #7
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Default Re: The rise of 'unconstitutional' checkpoints in America

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Originally Posted by Cyborg View Post
With all that is happening in the world today, whats the harm if authorities are increasing checks everywhere. Why are people not realizing its for their own protection and good.

If you are a law abiding citizen (this goes for anyplace in the world) with nothing to hide, then why fear.

Cheers
As long as the checks are for a purpose, say to check for DUI during the holiday season or smuggling, this is in the interest of the public.

However, this becomes a major problem when it is misused or abused. Case in point, the several incidents in the US across the past year or two related to racial profiling and the unfortunate consequences that followed. Let's not even begin about how irrational our cops are in the interest of making a quick buck.

In the US, there's a growing mistrust between law enforcement and people of color, purely on the grounds of racial profiling.

Of course, the law enforcement there is still pretty bound by Constitutional rights afforded to citizens.

Last edited by libranof1987 : 23rd December 2016 at 16:25.
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Old 23rd December 2016, 16:46   #8
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Default Re: The rise of 'unconstitutional' checkpoints in America

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Originally Posted by deerhunter View Post
As long as this is for the protection from terrorism/crime, it is fine. But what if one day, a new government decides to use it against their political opponents? Anything that has the potential to be misused, will be misused. After this new system of checkpoints become well established, when someone starts misusing them, it would become too difficult to dismantle them.
Why are we worried or bothered about governments using this against their political opponents now? You are talking about hypothetical situations in the future, face the harsh reality of today first - its the need of the hour. Its better to have extremely stringent checks and balances in place, even if it pisses of people such as yourself, imagine if only one attack such as the recent Berlin one can be avoided by this it is a victory.

These kind of people (terrorists) are getting away with so much of nonsense is because of the bleeding heart liberals. Why should criminals have any rights at all? The system was weak hence it is getting exploited, now hopefully law enforcement is getting strengthened, they need to be just as if not more ruthless than the perpetrators, only then will things improve.

Normal citizens need to start to cooperate with the police and allied agencies in all this instead of criticizing them. Its high time the anti social/terrorist elements start getting afraid of law enforcement and what they will do.

Free our guardians hands, let them do what they do best without cribbing, crying and tying up their hands. There will be bad apples everywhere, but, the general rule should apply.

I am restating my earlier point, if a person is law abiding then he/she has nothing to fear, its as simple as that!

Cheers
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Old 23rd December 2016, 17:18   #9
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Default Re: The rise of 'unconstitutional' checkpoints in America

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Why are we worried or bothered about governments using this against their political opponents now? You are talking about hypothetical situations in the future..
imagine if only one attack such as the recent Berlin one can be avoided by this it is a victory.

These kind of people (terrorists) are getting away with so much of nonsense is because of the bleeding heart liberals.
Normal citizens need to start to cooperate with the police and allied agencies in all this instead of criticizing them.

Free our guardians hands, let them do what they do best without cribbing, crying and tying up their hands. There will be bad apples everywhere, but, the general rule should apply.
The last time we gave a constitutional loophole to a government, we had an emergency here. It is not hypothetical, we had experiences. Whenever the government tries to curb the rights of a citizen for no reasonable suspicion, history had shown several times that it ends tragically. Do we need another despotic government?

All the major terror attacks till now happened only after several major warnings by intelligence agencies. It is true for the recent Berlin attacks too. That guy was assessed as a threat and the law enforcement agencies chose to ignore it. So the government should first think about intelligence-law enforcement coordination, rather than infringing on the rights of the citizens.

Also, it is not about being a liberal. It is about upholding the rights provided by the constitution.

I am in no way opposing check points or searching, but only if there is credible intelligence and reasonable suspicion.

Quote:
I am restating my earlier point, if a person is law abiding then he/she has nothing to fear, its as simple as that!
Exactly. It is unconstitutional to stop a citizen in the US without reasonable suspicion. So a law abiding citizen who respects the constitution should not allow him/her to be subjected to such checking.

Last edited by deerhunter : 23rd December 2016 at 17:25.
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Old 23rd December 2016, 18:44   #10
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Default Re: The rise of 'unconstitutional' checkpoints in America

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Also, it is not about being a liberal. It is about upholding the rights provided by the constitution.

I am in no way opposing check points or searching, but only if there is credible intelligence and reasonable suspicion.

Exactly. It is unconstitutional to stop a citizen in the US without reasonable suspicion. So a law abiding citizen who respects the constitution should not allow him/her to be subjected to such checking.
I am so happy you brought this up. I hope I can spread the light this festive season. This time is also the most dangerous for unfortunate incidents so be ready for some additional checking and I hope after understanding what is written below you manage a thought for those people in law enforcement who do a thankless job majority of the time and are working while you party.

Scenario from your perspective:
You are coming back from a party with your family and see a checkpoint ahead. You crib, cry about your valuable time being wasted subjected to this unnecessary and unconstitutional harassment in your esteemed opinion.

Scenario from the law enforcement side managing the checkpoint:
The Officer in Command has received orders from intelligence about possible contraband coming thru with terrorists who are armed and extremely dangerous. They may be pretending to be a family with kids or just males or a mixture of male and female operatives. They may come thru today or anytime till the end of the week or not at all thru this area. There are no guarantees of any situation.

Do you think the terrorists as mentioned above would be carrying placards saying they are terrorists? I think not, right?

It should not take a genius to understand why the Police managing the checkpoint are treating everyone coming thru with suspicion now.

Please share the above viewpoint with everyone if you agree and always be cheerful with the Officers so they do not think that all the people who they protect are thankless asses.

Compliments of the Season.
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Old 23rd December 2016, 18:56   #11
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Default Re: The rise of 'unconstitutional' checkpoints in America

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I hope after understanding what is written below you manage a thought for those people in law enforcement who do a thankless job majority of the time and are working while you party.

Scenario from your perspective:
You are coming back from a party with your family and see a checkpoint ahead. You crib, cry..

Scenario from the law enforcement side managing the checkpoint:
The Officer in Command has received orders from intelligence about possible contraband coming thru with terrorists who are armed and extremely dangerous..

Do you think the terrorists as mentioned above would be carrying placards saying they are terrorists? I think not, right?
In such a situation, where there is a credible intelligence of an imminent terror attack, it is totally reasonable to have such a checkpoint. That was what i was telling in my previous post too. But establishing a checkpoint just to harass the citizens is a path to despotism. Arbitrary check on citizens at the discretion of the officer in charge, with no reasonable suspicion and credible intelligence, is totally against the spirit of the constitution.

The line that divides reasonable from unreasonable should be like this - if the officer in charge has reasonable suspicion backed by a credible intelligence from an appropriate intelligence agency/bureau, he can ask a vehicle to stop and check it. If the owner doesnt comply, he can use force. The owner can go to court, where the officer can clear his side by providing proof for the intelligence provided to him. But if there is no suspicion and the officer stops and harass, then he must be ready to face the law if the owner goes to court.

Unfortunately, that is not acceptable in India, because there is no liabilty of torts for sovereign functions. But through continuing interpretation of the law by the supreme court, that situation is changing.

I am saying it again, if there is reasonable suspicion backed by intelligence, a stop and frisk is not unreasonable. If you think a stop and frisk is reasonable without any suspicion or intelligence, I dont know what to say.

Last edited by deerhunter : 23rd December 2016 at 19:06.
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Old 23rd December 2016, 19:24   #12
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Default Re: The rise of 'unconstitutional' checkpoints in America

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But establishing a checkpoint just to harass the citizens is a path to despotism. Arbitrary check on citizens at the discretion of the officer in charge, with no reasonable suspicion and credible intelligence, is totally against the spirit of the constitution.

I am saying it again, if there is reasonable suspicion backed by intelligence, a stop and frisk is not unreasonable. If you think a stop and frisk is reasonable without any suspicion or intelligence, I dont know what to say.
From the position you are - i.e. a normal citizen on the street. How on earth can you ever assume the stop/search/checkpoint is being carried out at the whims and fancies of the Officer. Do not think it is possible unless you are looking into a crystal ball

I would like to always give the benefit of the doubt to those who protect and serve unless proven otherwise.

From what you mention the Officer in question has to be loco and I am sure they would be weeded out of the force, if they ever manage to get in that is. The scenario you are painting of an Officer putting up a checkpoint only to harass citizens can only be in the movies

Cheers
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Old 23rd December 2016, 19:45   #13
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From the position you are - i.e. a normal citizen on the street. How on earth can you ever assume the stop/search/checkpoint is being carried out at the whims and fancies of the Officer.
I wont be able to assume anything. But if a citizen feels that he/she has been harassed by an officer by an unreasonable stop and frisk, let the citizen go to court and let the officer clear his side at the court and let the law take its course. This is what is happening in all those "unreasonable use of force" cases in US courts.

Quote:
I would like to always give the benefit of the doubt to those who protect and serve unless proven otherwise.
Not everyone will be like this. I will give an example: A government in power has decided to introduce this checkpoint system to control crime. But once while searching a car, the officers found a person carrying evidence that could incriminate the head of the government. Since the system always supports the rulers, it is natural that the person carrying evidence is arrested and the evidence destroyed. A democracy cannot work that way. Again, dont say that is hypothetical. Because it has happened several times in history.

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From what you mention the Officer in question has to be loco and I am sure they would be weeded out of the force, if they ever manage to get in that is. The scenario you are painting of an Officer putting up a checkpoint only to harass citizens can only be in the movies
I dont know why you think that can only be in movies. It is implemented in all the authoritarian regimes of the world. This has happened even in India during the emergency. Emergency was definitely not a movie.

Last edited by deerhunter : 23rd December 2016 at 19:49.
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Old 23rd December 2016, 20:10   #14
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Default Re: The rise of 'unconstitutional' checkpoints in America

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All the major terror attacks till now happened only after several major warnings by intelligence agencies. It is true for the recent Berlin attacks too. That guy was assessed as a threat and the law enforcement agencies chose to ignore it.
The guy was known to authorities, but I have seen no report that he was still on the streets after having actually done something illegal (like acquiring weapons or explosives or even planning an attack). This is the nature of the threat that exists in the world today. A random check point may have stopped him in this case, as he was driving around with the dead body of the actual driver of the truck.

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I am in no way opposing check points or searching, but only if there is credible intelligence and reasonable suspicion.
I am not disagreeing with this - however, how does a guy who is stopped at a random checkpoint decide if there is credible intelligence and reasonable suspicion? You cannot expect the police to deliver the intelligence reports on the spot to the driver to convince him if the intelligence is credible. What the driver should do is co-operate and complain only if he is harassed even after he co-operates.

I had an experience a few months back when I was picked at an European airport for random extra checks after I passed the security check point. The policeman took me to another room and checks my bags etc. I co-operated fully, after which I asked him what the checks were for. He told me about the checks he was doing, thanked me for my co-operation and apologized for the inconvenience. The whole thing was over in less than 5 minutes. The policeman did his job and I did not have anything to complain about the way he did it.
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Old 23rd December 2016, 20:23   #15
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Default Re: The rise of 'unconstitutional' checkpoints in America

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The guy was known to authorities, but I have seen no report that he was still on the streets after having actually done something illegal (like acquiring weapons or explosives or even planning an attack). This is the nature of the threat that exists in the world today. A random check point may have stopped him in this case, as he was driving around with the dead body of the actual driver of the truck.
Tunisian authorities have intercepted him talking to known IS recruits. The German authorities failed to act on this info. He should have been in custody till he was able to clear his name from associating with known terrorists.

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I am not disagreeing with this - however, how does a guy who is stopped at a random checkpoint decide if there is credible intelligence and reasonable suspicion? You cannot expect the police to deliver the intelligence reports on the spot to the driver to convince him if the intelligence is credible. What the driver should do is co-operate and complain only if he is harassed even after he co-operates.
No, the owner will not be able to decide if there is suspicion or not. Also the definition of harassment is different for different people. In a country like US, where openly carrying assault rifles is considered as a fundamental right in many states, people may find even a police checkpoint as harassment. So the only way this can work is how it is now working in the US - if the guy felt that he was being harassed, he can go to court and there the officer can show the relevant details for his suspicion. But many a time in the US, there is no defence for the officer, because most of such stoppings are without any suspicion. This deter the officers from unreasonable checkings. This legal liability as well as mandatory body cams in many states have reduced such harassments in the US. US states have paid millions to such drivers in compensation.

Quote:
I had an experience a few months back when I was picked at an European airport for random extra checks after I passed the security check point. The policeman took me to another room and checks my bags etc. I co-operated fully, after which I asked him what the checks were for. He told me about the checks he was doing, thanked me for my co-operation and apologized for the inconvenience. The whole thing was over in less than 5 minutes. The policeman did his job and I did not have anything to complain about the way he did it
I am sorry that you had to go through this. I have heard that the experience is traumatic for many. But again there is a difference between a citizen and an alien. An alien doesnt have all the rights of a citizen.(Here I am assuming that you are not an European. Sorry if i am wrong.) If a citizen was harassed this way in the US for no reasonable suspicion, the TSA would lose many thousands of dollars.

Last edited by deerhunter : 23rd December 2016 at 20:39.
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