Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

PA Court: Parole Agents Can Frisk Non-Parolees to Check for Weapons

September 27, 2015

By Matt Miller, Pennlive.com, September 23, 2015

Parole agents can frisk people other than parolees for weapons if they have a reasonable suspicion the person being searched poses a safety risk, a state Superior Court panel ruled recently.

The decision clarifies the scope of parole agents’ authority. President Emeritus Judge Kate Ford Elliott noted in the Superior Court opinion that Pennsylvania law doesn’t definitively address the issue.

In fact, Ford Elliott’s court looked to rulings from courts in other states, including Ohio and Louisiana, for guidance as it weighed the appeal of Darrin Orlando Mathis.

Mathis, 23, of Harrisburg, appealed to the Superior Court after Dauphin County Judge Todd A. Hoover convicted him in November on weapons and drug possession charges. Mathis, a convicted felon who was barred from possessing guns, was sentenced to 32 to 64 months in state prison.

On appeal, Mathis challenged a ruling by Hoover denying his pretrial request to suppress the evidence against him, specifically a pistol that was found when a state parole agent frisked him at a Harrisburg home. He claimed the agent had no authority to subject him to a pat-down because he wasn’t a parolee in the agent’s charge.

The pat-down in dispute occurred in December 2013 when two parole agents visited the home to check on another man who was a parolee. Mathis was only visiting the house to get a haircut.

During the visit, the agents smelled marijuana and took the parolee into custody. The agents noted that Mathis was acting as though he was nervous, court filings state.

Agent Michael Welsh testified that he decided to frisk Mathis after Mathis picked up a green jacket “kind of funny” and was “holding this thing like it was a baby… being real gentle with it.” The agent said he grabbed the jacket and felt the butt of a gun. After a brief tug of war, Welsh pulled the jacket away from Mathis, then aimed his Taser at Mathis and handcuffed him.

Mathis later admitted to having the gun – which was loaded – and some marijuana.

Ford Elliott observed in her court’s opinion that “there is little guidance in the way of published law in this commonwealth” regarding the issue of whether parole agents have the authority to pat down non-parolees.

Rulings by courts that dealt with the issue in other states convinced her that parole agents in Pennsylvania must have such authority in order to protect themselves, she wrote. Parole agents often face the same risks as police officers, who have broader power to frisk persons they deem to be potential threats, the judge noted.

In rejecting Mathis’ appeal, the Superior Court didn’t give parole agents permission to pat down whoever they please.

The agents can conduct weapons frisks of non-parolees who are present during arrests or home visits “where the parole agent has a reasonable suspicion that a person searched may be armed and dangerous,” Ford Elliott wrote.

Matt Miller is a reporter for The Patriot-News/PennLive in Harrisburg

Activist form Black Lives Matter Offshoot Arrested After Threatening Police

September 27, 2015

From http://www.breitbart.com by Lee Stranahan, September 26, 2015

Police in Clayton County, Georgia have arrested Black Lives Matter activist Latausha Nedd aka “Eye Empress Sekhmet” after she posted a video calling for “open season” on police and “crackers” that also called for taking over police stations. The three minute video that landed Nedd in legal trouble shows her menacing a gun and a machete while dressed in camouflage.

Nedd is part of the “Fuck Yo Flag” movement that’s a splinter offshoot of the Black Lives Matter movement, as previously reported on by Breitbart News,

Nedd was taken into custody by FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and a joint terrorism task force. Clayton County Chief Michael Register told Atlanta TV station WSB,  “A lot of people talk on the Internet and on YouTube, but most people don’t make threats against segments of the community.”

Nedd—who has previously expressed hatred towards America by standing on a flag—was incredulous. While cuffed in the back of a police car she told the news station, “All I said was defend yourself against people who want to kill us. That’s all. I never said anything more than that.”

Although the original video by Nedd has been removed from YouTube, parts of it can be seen in WSB’s report on the arrest.

 

Illegal Alien Kidnapped Victims in Texas for Mexican Drug Cartel

September 27, 2015

From Breitbart News by Ildefonso Ortiz, September 26, 2015

MCALLEN, Texas – A convicted Mexican drug cartel kidnapper and suspected assassin will spend 40 years in prison for carrying out a kidnapping in this border city under orders from his bosses in Mexico.

On Thursday, Martin Casimiro Margarito went before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez who handed down a 480 month prison sentence on the case and set a $25,000 fine on his as well. Once his sentence is completed, Casimiro expected to face deportation procedures.

Martin Casimiro Margarito

Alvarez noted that “this kind of conduct goes on routinely in Mexico and unfortunately is seen more and more in Texas,” information released to Breitbart Texas by the U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed.  “Alvarez hoped that this sentence would not only serve as a deterrent to Margarito himself but also to anyone seeking vengeance for a debt owned.”

The kidnapping in question took place on January, 2015 when, according to court documents obtained by Breitbart Texas, Martin Margarito Casimiro and 17-year-old Silvestre Lopez held Gustavo Burr and Andres Reyes at gunpoint at a north McAllen house, in order to collect money owed to a Mexican drug boss.

Burr was able to escape from the stash house and ran down the street with ropes still tied around his arms and legs, asking for help. Authorities responded to the scene and found a second kidnapping victim as well as various men attempting to flee the house. Authorities also recovered two handguns and an AR-15 rifle. The kidnapping appears to have been over a $300,000 drug debt.

In addition to the double cartel kidnapping, Casimiro also is facing capital murder charges in a Texas State Court for his role in a double kidnapping and execution tied to human smuggling, Breitbart Texas reported.

The execution took place in October 2014 when “three large Hispanic” men kidnapped in broad daylight 39-year-old Elia Margarita Flores in the border city of Pharr Texas. Authorities learned that the truck belonged to 24-year-old Victor Manuel Garcia who had also been kidnapped.

Days later, on November 4, workers in a rural area found the Garcia’s remains stuffed inside trash bags in the northern part of the border county of Hidalgo. Less than a week later authorities found Flores’ decomposed body in a rural area near the border town of Donna.

The execution of the two is tied to the trafficking of illegal aliens through South Texas while authorities have not said the name of the organization, as reported by Breitbart Texas, human smuggling has become a big money maker for Mexico’s Gulf Cartel.

Ildefonso Ortiz is an award winning journalist with Breitbart Texas you can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

District of Columbia Has Lost Another 2nd Amendment Case

September 27, 2015

From http://www.dailysignal.com by Hans von Spakovsky, September 25, 2015

Seven years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns, D.C. has lost another gun case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia—one that involves the very same plaintiff, Dick Heller.

In the latest case, Heller v. District of Columbia, a three-judge panel has thrown out several gun registration requirements that were clearly intended to discourage gun ownership and make it more difficult to own a gun in the nation’s capital.

The original Heller case, which was decided in 2008, was without doubt the most important case on the Second Amendment since the amendment was first ratified on Dec. 15, 1791 as part of the original Bill of Rights. It was the first case in which the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects the right of individual Americans to own a gun. The Court rejected the District’s “prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.”

Immediately after the 2008 decision, the city council of the District enacted the Firearms Registration Amendment Act of 2008. Dick Heller filed another lawsuit challenging that Act, claiming it violated the Second Amendment, too. In response to the lawsuit and a decision by the appellate court, the city council in 2012 revised the Act to get rid of some of the conditions for registration, such as a requirement that all pistols be submitted for ballistic identification.

Heller then amended his lawsuit to challenge the remaining restrictions on gun owners that the District had left in place. The federal district court upheld all of these restrictions last year as “constitutionally permissible” efforts “to combat gun violence and promote public safety.”

However, the appellate court disagreed on Sept. 18.

It applied “intermediate scrutiny” to the D.C. gun law. To survive a challenge under intermediate scrutiny, the law must first promote “a substantial governmental interest that would be achieved less effectively absent the regulation.” And second, the means chosen by the law must be “not substantially broader than necessary to achieve that interest.”

The Court of Appeals upheld D.C.’s basic registration requirement, which requires applicants to provide identification and other information, as well as pay fees to register. This is a “de minimis” requirement that is “similar to other common registration or licensing schemes, such as those for voting or for driving a car, that cannot reasonably be considered onerous.” De minimis requirements do “not implicate the second amendment right,” according to the court.

Further, D.C.’s requirement that gun registrants provide photographs and fingerprints “will directly and materially advance public safety by preventing at least some ineligible individuals from obtaining weapons and, more importantly, by facilitating identification of the owner of a registered firearm during any subsequent encounter with the police.” Thus, this requirement is constitutional.

On the other hand, the appellate court threw out the requirement that an individual submitting a gun registration to the D.C. metropolitan police department bring the gun with him. The court summarily dismissed D.C.’s claim that this would enhance public safety:

On the contrary, common sense suggests than bringing firearms to the MPD would more likely be a threat to public safety; as Heller maintains, there is a “risk that the gun may be stolen en route or that the [would-be registrant] may be arrested or even shot by a police officer seeing a ‘man with a gun’ (or a gun case).

The appellate court also threw out D.C.’s requirement that gun owners re-register their guns every three years. None of the so-called “public safety” reasons the city put forward for this requirement made any sense; for example, the city claimed that this would maintain the accuracy of its registration list, including if a gun has been lost or stolen. But the city already requires gun owners to update their registration information, such as a change of address. And gun registrants are required to “immediately” notify the city if their gun is lost or stolen.

The court did uphold the city’s requirement that gun owners take a one-hour firearms safety course. However, the court threw out a requirement that gun owners be tested on their knowledge of the District’s gun laws. While one can conclude that a gun safety course will promote “public safety by reducing accidents involving firearms,” there is no evidence “that passing a test of knowledge about local gun laws does so.”

Finally, the court struck down the District’s “only-one-pistol-per-month” rule. The city council banned the registration of “more than one pistol per registrant during any 30-day period,” claiming it would reduce gun trafficking and “promote gun safety by limiting the number of guns in circulation.”

The court was dismissive of the “experts” the city presented on this issue, saying that the “experts’ conclusion that limiting gun registration would likewise reduce trafficking is, however, unsupported by the evidence.” In fact, “the suggestion that a gun trafficker would bring fewer guns into the District because he could not register more than one per month there lacks the support of experience and of common sense.”

The argument that limiting the guns in circulation would limit accidents or gun misuse did not help the city, either. That theory, “taken to its logical conclusion,” would “justify a total ban on firearms kept at home.” And that is obviously unconstitutional.

For seven years the District of Columbia has spent an enormous amount of time and resources trying to either deny the Second Amendment rights of its residents outright or make it difficult for them to exercise those rights by enacting a bureaucratic maze of red tape. Imagine if it had spent those same resources on trying to protect its residents. Perhaps then D.C. wouldn’t be the crime-ridden battle zone it has been for far too long.

Originally published in PJ Media.

Sheriffs, Police Chiefs & Gun Control

September 16, 2015

From The New American by Larry Pratt, September 16, 2015

It’s 2 a.m. and you awaken to the sound of shattering glass. You are about to be the victim of a home invasion/rape/robbery. Do you do the politically correct thing and dial 911 — then simply hope that the police arrive in the next 90 seconds, before the invader(s) gets to you and your family? On the other hand, do you dial 911 (if you have time) or have a family member do so, and pick up your pistol or shotgun and let the thugs learn a Constitutionalism 101 lesson on the Second Amendment?

Gun Control, Sheriffs & Police Chiefs

The calculation and recording of police “response time” varies widely from one jurisdiction to the next, but various studies show it may be anywhere from four minutes to an hour before police come to the rescue. When every second counts, depending on 911 as your lifeline could leave you (and your family) as a chalk outline and a crime victim statistic.

There are plenty of actual, real-life 911 recordings you can listen to on the Internet of crime victims being brutalized and murdered while on the phone with 911, waiting for police help. There are calls such as the one last year from a man in New Port Richey, Florida, who called 911 when his home was invaded by four thugs. On the call’s recording, a woman screams in the background as the 911 voicemail states “If this is an emergency, hang up and dial 911. Thank you for calling”! The invaders viciously beat the homeowner and his wife and mother-in-law, and even threatened to shoot the couple’s baby. Fortunately, the homeowner was able to get to his gun and shoot one of the attackers, putting the criminals to flight. The thugs were caught later by police, but it was the victim’s decision to fight that kept him and his family from becoming crime fatality statistics.

“Progressive” commentators went into full apoplexy mode in 2013 when Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr. ran a radio advertisement that warned county residents that “simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option.” “You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back,” Clarke said. The outspoken sheriff, who is black, urged listeners to take a firearm safety course and get a firearm “so you can defend yourself until we get there.”

“You have a duty to protect yourself and your family,” Sheriff Clarke advised.

Yes, you have a duty, as well as a natural right, to defend yourself and your family. Depending solely on uniformed agents of the collective (police officers or sheriff’s deputies of the city, county, or state governments) is not only dangerous to one’s immediate safety, but is also antithetical to the philosophical foundations of the natural rights of the individual upon which our constitutional government is based. By creating a police force to protect you and your family, you are by no means surrendering your right to self-defense.

The simple fact of the matter is this: When criminals decide to strike you, you’re on your own. The police may arrive in time to prevent harm — or, as is more often the case, in time to preserve the crime scene and take notes from survivors or neighborhood witnesses.

Like Sheriff Clarke, Detroit Police Chief James Craig has liberaldom up in arms (pardon the pun) over his calls urging more law-abiding citizens to take up arms in self-defense. “The message should be,” he told WDIV Channel 4 News in a March 2014 interview, “that people are going to protect themselves. They’re tired, they’ve been dealing with this epidemic of violence, they’re afraid, and they have a right to protect themselves.”

As a general matter, police chiefs tend to be rather more supportive of gun control and less sympathetic to the Second Amendment than are sheriffs. This is especially true of the big-city police chiefs of cities dominated by Democratic Party politicians. Police chiefs are appointed, whereas sheriffs are elected by the people, which often explains the differences among them.

In January of 2013, President Obama was pushing a range of gun-control measures, from banning semi-automatic firearms, to banning magazines over 10 rounds, to background checks for all sales. The president wanted to prohibit access to firearms “that aren’t necessary for hunters and sportsmen.”

Obama was hoping to lay down a definition of the Second Amendment totally excluding its main purpose, which is to ensure that the people retain the means to resist tyranny in government.

The president was hopeful that he could mobilize police and sheriffs to support his gun-control agenda. He had cherry-picked law-enforcement officials to attend a January 28, 2013 meeting at the White House for the purpose of getting behind his agenda.

But it turns out the two national groups representing police and sheriffs at the 2013 White House meeting — the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Major County Sheriffs Association — disagreed on the initiative. The chiefs backed it, while the sheriffs opposed it.

There was a lack of support for banning semi-automatic firearms and magazines, so the focus among the law-enforcement officers tended to move toward mental health issues as a supposed justification for doing background checks of gun buyers.

The good news is that significant opposition has sprung up in Connecticut and New York to the draconian gun-control laws passed in 2013. Sheriffs, some police chiefs, and many gun owners have simply said they will not enforce or comply with these laws. The good news to take away from this is that in addition to elected sheriffs in New York, many police chiefs in Connecticut and New York also indicated they would not enforce their states’ new gun-control laws; New York’s law is known as the SAFE Act.

It is estimated that upwards of 300,000 owners of semi-automatic firearms in Connecticut have refused to re-register their guns. Refusal to comply with the New York SAFE Act seems also widespread. So far there has been no effort by police or sheriffs to pursue those not complying.

With the exception of a few police officers and officials, it has been sheriffs engaging in interposition. For example, Wicomico County, Maryland, Sheriff Mike Lewis warned the feds that there would be serious consequences if they attempted to violate the Second Amendment in his county. Gun-control advocates heads’ exploded when Sheriff Lewis said this: “As long as I’m the sheriff in this county, I will not allow the federal government to come in here and strip my citizens of their right to bear arms. I can tell you this, if they attempt to do that, it would be an all-out civil war, no question about it.”

The vast majority of rank-and-file cops do not support the gun-control agendas of their political overlords. In a March 2013 survey of more than 16,000 current and former police officers by Police One, some interesting results were obtained. Over 91 percent of those surveyed favored citizens carrying firearms. Nearly half said that if they were to become chief or sheriff, they would not enforce more restrictive gun-control laws. Seventy percent of the respondents opposed a national registry of firearms owners.

In the same 2013 survey by Police One, well over 40 percent did not support requiring training to carry a gun — a key feature of the laws in seven states that do not require a government permit to carry a concealed firearm. The survey also found that about 85 percent of officers say the passage of the White House’s 2013 proposed legislation would have a zero or negative effect on their safety, with just over 10 percent saying it would have a moderate or significantly positive effect.

A survey of police officers by the National Association of Chiefs of Police in 2011 found that 98 percent of those polled think “any law-abiding citizen [should] be able to purchase a firearm for sport and self-defense.”

In summary, a significant number of police officers are supportive of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in very specific ways. Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who once accepted the “progressive” dogma on restricting civilian access to firearms, now urges citizens to arm themselves. With encouragement from voters, more police chiefs and sheriffs are likely move in that direction. They may even adopt the attitude of Sheriff Clarke, who said in his address to the NRA in 2014: “If you’re going to stand with me, you have to be willing to resist any attempt by government to disarm law-abiding people by fighting with the ferociousness of a junkyard dog.”

Larry Pratt is the executive director of Gun Owners of America.

What About Police Brutality?

September 16, 2015

From The New American by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D., September 16, 2015

On July 11, 2015, Madison County, Indiana, sheriff’s deputies pulled over Ewart Kenneth Johnson, a 51-year-old black man. Johnson’s blood alcohol level at the time of his arrest was five times the legal limit. Later that night, while being booked into the Madison County jail, Johnson claims, four deputies beat him, resulting in a gash on his head and a severely swollen face.

What About Police Brutality?

Stories such as Johnson’s seem to surface every day. Headlines from coast to coast report cases of police brutality (often involving white police officers and black victims). This case has a different ending, however, one that doesn’t make it to the front page.

Video Vanquishes Lies

Rather than jump blindly to the defense of his deputies, Madison County Sheriff Scott Mellinger handled Johnson’s accusations in a way that should be followed by his fellow sheriffs throughout the country.

“We all know that nationally, there’s been all kinds of police-community antagonistic situations, and I wanted to get to the bottom of it,” Mellinger said, as reported in local Indianapolis media. “We need to go the extra yard and show people that number one, we have nothing to hide, and number two, as sheriff, I want transparency.”

Transparency. Going the extra yard. These are not the type of actions that will attract the rabid anti-cop crusaders, but they are exactly the type of responsible reactions to charges of police brutality that should be reported as widely as are those of the less reasonable sort.

True to his word, Mellinger handed over the investigation of the case to the Indiana State Police, completely removing his own department from the matter, thus heading off potential claims of pro-police bias or partiality. During the investigation, surveillance video was released that showed that, contrary to Johnson’s claims, the injuries he claimed were inflicted by the arresting officers were already clearly visible before Johnson was booked. When confronted with the video revealing his pre-arrest appearance, Johnson said he “must have dreamt” that he was beaten by deputies and he “made a big mistake.”

In the current socially combustible climate, this is the sort of “mistake” that could end careers and ignite potentially lethal protests. Had Sheriff Mellinger jumped to the blind defense of his officers, the firestorm could have flared and the facts would have been obscured by the tear-gas smoke.

Perhaps the most widely reported incident of a police officer exonerated of misuse of deadly force was that of Ferguson, Missouri, Officer Darren Wilson. In March, the Justice Department cleared Wilson of charges that he violated the civil rights of Michael Brown, who was killed last August. The New York Times reported that the 86-page report issued by the Justice Department

detailed and evaluated the testimony of more than 40 witnesses, the Justice Department largely corroborated or found little credible evidence to contradict the account of the officer, Darren Wilson, who is white.

Versions of events that sharply conflicted with Mr. Wilson’s were largely inconsistent with forensic evidence or with the witnesses’ previous statements, the report said. And in some cases, witnesses whose accounts supported Mr. Wilson said they had been afraid to come forth or tell the truth because they feared reprisals from the enraged community.

Though the dismissal of charges against Wilson didn’t go unchallenged, and the agitators didn’t go away quietly, content with the clearing of Wilson’s name, the situation demonstrates the difficulty of clearly discerning guilt and innocence in this volatile climate where acquittal and conviction can create combustible interactions between public servants and members of the public.

While Madison County deserves credit for its professionalism and transparency, too often the charges of police brutality aren’t so easily disproved and aren’t the result of “dreams,” but are nightmares that have become very real.

In Denver, Colorado, for example, a video not only didn’t exonerate police accused of beating a citizen, but revealed that their brutality was worse than expected. In July 2009, police subdued and handcuffed four women. Later, the women claimed the cops roughly threw them to the ground, sprayed them with mace, and continued beating them once they were down. The women, insisting they did nothing to deserve such savagery, filed a formal complaint with the Denver Police Department, accusing the officers of using excessive force. The officers adamantly denied the charges and a believing public backed them all the way.

That is until a video surfaced two years later revealing the truth of victims’ allegations and showing the officers lied about their treatment of the women they arrested. Before the video came to light, the officers accused of brutality claimed that the women attacked them and that they were quickly surrounded by a mob. None of that appeared on the video, however.

The city awarded the women $360,000, but the policemen who beat them and then lied about it were put back on the streets after the furor died down, this time as agents of the Denver Civil Service Commission.

Remarkably, this betrayal of the public trust went unnoticed until August 2015, when the women pushed back again, resulting in the dismissal of one of the officers. The other attacker had quit in 2013.

Despite the right resolution of this case, many other cases of police brutality go unpunished and, on the other hand, many false charges of police-inflicted injury are accepted without appropriate inquiry.

One of the most notorious examples of verifiable violence committed by cops against those undeserving of any level of abuse happened in Cornelia, Georgia, and left a toddler near death, horribly injured, and disfigured. Bounkham Phonesavanh was 19 months old and asleep in his crib when a sheriff’s SWAT team broke open the front door in the early morning hours on May 28, 2014 and threw a flash-bang grenade into the front room. His mother, father, and three sisters were in the room as well. The grenade attack came during the execution of a “no-knock” warrant, supposedly based on an anonymous tip regarding an alleged $50 drug deal.

“Everyone’s sleeping. There’s a loud bang and a bright light,” the boy’s mother, Alecia Phonesavanh, told local news station WSB-TV. “The cops threw that grenade in the door without looking first, and it landed right in the playpen and exploded on his pillow right in his face.”

As a result of injuries from the SWAT team’s tactics, Bounkham was placed in a medically induced coma. “It blew open his face and his chest,” the boy’s mother told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution outside Grady Memorial Hospital. “Everybody was asleep. It’s not like anyone was trying to fight.”

According to an article in the U.K. Daily Mail, Bounkham Phonesavanh has endured some 10 surgeries costing more than a million dollars, “His nerve endings are dead around his mouth and chest, so they will not be able to properly develop as they are supposed to, so they [surgeons] will have to go in and do stretching and grafts.” He’ll likely need surgery at least every other year as he grows.

Do’s and Don’ts of Intervention

While public outcry against abuses of power by those carrying guns and charged with “serving and protecting” their fellow citizens is understandable and often justified, too often those demanding punishment of offending officers also demand that the federal government get involved to crack down on the rogue cops.

On the other side, the segment of society sympathetic to the perceived plight of police and hostile to those claiming abuse at their hands also petition the federal government, demanding that they send local law enforcement more powerful weapons to help them fight the foes of law and order and keep police on the street safe from rocks thrown by rioters.

Constitutionalists on either side of the issue should recognize the problem with both reactions: increased federal control over local law enforcement.

Of course, the federal government gets what it wants regardless of who wins the fight for “safer streets.”

A key plank of the Obama administration platform seems to be the conversion of the local police into a sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces, and all the attention paid to charges of police brutality and the riots that so often erupt is pushing that agenda forward at breakneck speed.

Cash-strapped local law enforcement gobbles up the federal “grants,” purchasing military-grade vehicles, weapons, ammunition, and surveillance technology that would make the National Security Agency (NSA) proud. In December 2014, President Obama proposed $263 million in federal funding for local law enforcement, which includes $75 million for body-worn video cameras for police officers, the latest panacea for police abuse. Budgetary considerations and the constitutional federalism issues aside, the body cam, like the dashcams mounted in many police cruisers and the audio recorders already worn by many peace officers, can offer some measure of accountability — both for the peace officers and those who accuse them of abuse. It is worth noting that available evidence indicates that more often than not, dash-cam and body-cam videos exculpate, rather than convict, officers of wrongdoing.

The recent case of liberal Connecticut activist Professor Minati Roychoudhuri, who falsely accused a state trooper of racial profiling, is one of many in which video/audio recordings have shown accusations of police misconduct to be totally false. The recordings show Trooper John Such was courteous and professional, and the professor’s public accusations were false and malicious. Roychoudhuri is being prosecuted for her demonstrably false charges against the trooper. In other similar recent examples, police videos have exonerated officers in “celebrity” racism/brutality accusation cases, such as these: in Texas, Democratic state representative Garnet Coleman; California,  actress Taraji Henson; Kansas, activist John Sherman; and California, actress Daniele Watts. Many additional cases have shown that ideologues with a political agenda, as well as opportunists attempting to avoid the consequences of their criminal activities, have adopted the practice of hollering “racism” and “brutality” at the first contact with police officers.

While the campaigns for body cams is relatively new, the campaign for establishing “civilian review boards” has been underway since the 1930s — when it was launched by the Communist Party. The term “civilian review” is deceptively appealing, and we already have it in the form of civilian officials elected by the people and other civilian appointees and institutions established under state constitutions and county/city charters: state and county grand juries, county commissions, city councils, mayors, county sheriffs, etc. The Communist Party and its fellow travelers intended to undermine this constitutional civilian process by inserting over the police and sheriffs an unelected board of activists (whom they intended to control). Unfortunately, this subversive program has now been instituted in more than 100 U.S. cities.

As it stands now, the multi-pronged war against locally-controlled police is dangerously advanced. Unless citizens awaken to this fact and reverse the trend, we will find ourselves accelerating faster down the trail to tyranny.

Sheriffs Are the Key to Local Control

September 15, 2015

From The New American by Joe Wolvereton II, J.D., September 15, 2015

As one by one the parchment barricades protecting the people from the destructive growth of government are being attacked and overrun, there is one key group of officials who are stepping into the breach — county sheriffs.

On August 6 of this year, a sheriff with an eye on the Constitution and his fellow citizens stood steadfastly against the federal usurpation in defense of one of the residents of his county.

On that day, about 100 residents in Priest River, Idaho, gathered outside the home of a U.S. Navy veteran to protest an effort by the federal government to confiscate the man’s guns.

Idaho state representative Heather Scott said that the veteran, John Arnold, received a letter from the Veterans Affairs office “warning him that he cannot possess or purchase firearms.”

Remarkably, found among the throng of protesters was Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler. Wheeler “promised to stand guard against any federal attempts to remove Arnold’s guns,” the Associated Press reported.

“I took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and uphold the laws of Idaho,” Wheeler said, as quoted in the AP story. “This seemed appropriate to show my support. I was going to make sure Mr. Arnold’s rights weren’t going to be breached.”

Earlier this year, the Helena (Montana) Independent Record reported on the effort of the state legislature to protect not only the sovereignty of the state, but the status of sheriff as the highest constitutional law-enforcement authority:

House Bill 274, the “sheriffs first” measure, says federal agents may not make an arrest, search or seizure in the state without the written permission of the sheriff — or risk prosecution by the county attorney for kidnapping, trespass, theft or homicide.

“This bill is well intentioned,” said sponsor Rep. Nancy Ballance, R-Hamilton. “Federal overreach is a real concern. Our people want to know there is a last line of defense when the feds come into their county. And that’s the sheriff.”

Sheriffs nationwide are awakening to the reality of their role as the ultimate constitutionally elected county executive. Once aware of this role and its responsibilities, the lawmen are stepping up in defense of the Constitution.

Elected sheriffs, as the top law-enforcement officers within their counties, work for the citizens and taxpayers in their jurisdictions, not the federal government. This is a critical distinction in the era of rapid federalization (nationalization of local law enforcement).

One group of lawmen in particular has provided inspiration and information to county sheriffs willing to be an impenetrable roadblock on the federal government’s path toward absolutism: the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA).

The CSPOA’s two-fold mission is to save America and to get enough people involved in that fight to make the dream a reality. The organization’s website describes precisely how they propose to achieve this lofty and laudable goal:

The answers lie within our grasp and come from the foundation of our country. The principles are embodied within the Declaration of Independence and outlined in the Constitution.

Yes, America is in deep, deep trouble. The good news is that there is hope and my [CSPOA founder, former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack’s] victory at the US Supreme Court proves that it only takes a few to stand to make monumental changes. We do not have to stand by and watch while America is destroyed from within. If our counties, cities, and states and all local officers keep their oaths to protect us from tyranny, we can win this battle to take our country back.

This is our plan, our goal and our quest. We are forming the Constitutional Peace Officers Association which will unite all public servants and sheriffs, to keep their word to uphold, defend, protect, preserve, and obey the Constitution of the United States of America. We already have hundreds of police, sheriffs, and other officials who have expressed a desire to be a part of this Holy Cause of Liberty.

We are going to train and vet them all, state by state, to understand and enforce the constitutionally protected Rights of the people they serve, with an emphasis on State Sovereignty and local autonomy. Then these local governments will issue our new Declaration to the Federal Government regarding the abuses that we will no longer tolerate or accept. Said declaration will be enforced by our Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers. In short, the CSPOA will be the army to set our nation free. This will guarantee this movement remains both peaceful and effective.

The history presented by the constitutional sheriffs is sound.

Although police officers are the most visible components of today’s law-enforcement apparatus, it wasn’t always this way. In fact, for most of the early history of the United States, the investigation of crime and the arresting of suspects was not carried out by a professional cadre of full-time police officers at all.

Before the creation of the modern police force, the members of society believed that they themselves were endowed by natural law with very broad law-enforcement power. In fact, it was only the so-called executive functions of the law (issuing warrants, carrying out judicial orders, delivering summons) that were carried out by lawmen.

In the early days of the Republic, these duties were assigned by the people to sheriffs or constables, who would be chosen from among the people themselves. They were chosen (elected, often, but sometimes appointed) by the people and thus were accountable to them. No one would have imagined being a sheriff for life. Acting as a county sheriff was seen as an act of public service, not as a career. One would leave his profession when called upon by his fellow citizens and then, once the prescribed term of his public service was over, the sheriff would return to his former profession, living among those he recently served.

This arrangement continued to be common practice even as late as the 1830s when the renowned Alexis de Tocqueville visited America. De Tocqueville found that in America the “means available to the authorities for the discovery of crimes and arrest of criminals [are] very few.” To his surprise, however, he found that there was likely no country on Earth where “crime so seldom escapes punishment.”

How did we manage? How is it that in an era when the people themselves assumed most of the burden of investigating crimes and bringing lawbreakers to justice, the streets were safer and the cities more well-ordered?

The answer is found in the wisdom of our Founders. Men and women who desire to live in a peaceful, safe society should be responsible for making it so. Sheriffs elected or appointed by the people should be tasked with carrying out the executive functions of law enforcement, but it is the responsibility of the people themselves to watch, warn, and weed out.

Much of the growth of the police state, then, is a result of a dereliction of duty on the part of the American people. We have allowed a law-enforcement bureaucracy to grow up as an alternative to our own participation in the policing of our towns, and now we are reaping the whirlwind of increased violence by and against the professional police.

As in so many other areas where we have seen government and the agents of government transformed from servants into masters, law enforcement will only grow as onerous as we allow it to.

We can prevent the federal government from using grant money and fusion centers to stealthily grow a national police force — a sixth branch of the armed forces — right under our noses, by insisting that those entrusted with protecting and serving be chosen by us and accountable to us for any abuses of that trust. We must return to the concept of citizen-sheriff embraced by our Founders and others for generations.

police under fire coverBy electing courageous and constitutionally minded sheriffs, citizens of the 3,007 counties in the United States can clearly communicate to Washington, D.C., their determination to protect themselves from the “swarms of officers” sent “to harass our people and eat out their substance,” and we can return to the days of peaceful, well-ordered cities that were once the pride of the United States.

Obama and Allies Seek to Nationalize Local Police

September 15, 2015

From The New American by Alex Newman and William F. Jasper , September 15, 2015

On December 18, 2014, President Obama signed an executive order creating the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. In May 2015, the task force came out with its Final Report, which is commonly given the title “21st Century Policing.”

One of the report’s recommendations, which the Obama-friendly media fixated on, concerns greater restrictions on transfers of military equipment to local police agencies. However, as we reported in a related article (“What’s Happening to Our Police?“), the new “accountability” rules will not explicitly reduce the flow of war materials to law enforcement, but simply place more federal controls over local police. Moreover, the new Obama rules regarding military gear were just one component of a broader set of recommendations issued by Obama’s plan for “21st Century Policing” — the overarching theme of which was promoting increased federal control over law enforcement.

While speaking to a group of police at a carefully stage-managed event in Camden, New Jersey, the president also touted some of his other efforts to exert more control over police — officers who, in accordance with the Constitution, are supposed to serve and be accountable to local communities and the wishes of local citizens, not the mandates of the White House. Among other schemes, Obama boasted of his administration’s alleged efforts to “fight crime,” improve relations between police departments and the communities they serve, and promote “transparency.” He also touted a White House “data initiative” aimed at prodding police departments into following federal “guidelines” on data and body cameras.

Finally, Obama also celebrated federal “grants” created by the administration to promote and fund the implementation of dubious policies associated with “community policing strategies.” Those federal grants, of course, along with others, are at the heart of Obama’s efforts to nationalize everything from healthcare and education standards to law enforcement. Among the schemes to be promoted with the new grants are national standards for police departments receiving federal funds. Some critics have started describing the plot as “Common Core for police,” a reference to the Obama administration’s Department of Education efforts to bribe states into imposing the deeply controversial national K-12 school standards and the associated federal testing regime. The effort also comes just a few months after United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, citing Ferguson, demanded that American police submit to “international standards.”

According to a report by Obama’s task force released in March, two tentacles of the Department of Justice, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and the Office of Justice Programs, “should provide technical assistance and incentive funding to jurisdictions” that adhere to the White House plan, “in return for receiving federal funds.” The report also called for uniform federal standards for data collected by local police departments, and much more.

Even before citing militarization of police as an excuse to usurp more control over local police, Obama was celebrating the recommendations of his task force, and demanding rapid implementation. “I’m going to be asking Eric Holder and the Justice Department and his successor to go through all of these recommendations so that we can start implementing them,” he explained. “I know one area that’s going to be of great interest is whether we can expand the COPS program that in the past has been very effective, continues to be effective, but is largely underfunded.”

The recommendations offered a “great opportunity” to “really transform how we think about community law enforcement relations,” Obama said. “We need to seize that opportunity,” he continued, echoing the “never let a crisis go to waste” rhetoric of other statists. “This is something that I’m going to stay very focused on in the months to come.” He certainly was not kidding.

Just weeks after the report was released, the administration unveiled a list of six U.S. cities targeted to serve as “pilot sites” to develop and deploy federal guidance for local police — all of it supposedly to create “better procedures, reduce racial bias, and regain citizens’ trust.” The plan, officially dubbed the “National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice,” will use U.S. taxpayer dollars to deploy “experts” and “researchers” charged with training officers to act in a manner that the DOJ deems just — in essence doing the bidding of the Obama administration. Officially, the Justice Department will be helping local officials “fight crime” under the scheme, according to news reports.

Initially, the program, which will cost American taxpayers almost $5 million, will aim to “assess” the relationship between local police and the communities they serve. Then, the DOJ squads will work to develop plans supposedly aimed at enhancing “procedural justice,” reducing bias, and supporting “reconciliation in communities where trust has been eroded,” the Justice Department said in a statement announcing the plan. With more than two-thirds of Americans saying in a survey that the federal government is “out of control” and a “threat” to their liberties, it was not immediately clear how “trust” would be “restored” by deepening federal involvement.

The first six cities to be targeted as pilot sites will be Birmingham, Alabama; Fort Worth, Texas; Gary, Indiana; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Stockton, California. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price described the program as “a tool to strengthen our partnership with the justice system.” But other police departments are also in the cross hairs. According to the official announcement, an unspecified number of “police departments and communities that are not pilot sites” will also be targeted for more DOJ “training” and “technical assistance.”

It bears mentioning that the DOJ,  which supposedly will guide local law enforcement in proper procedures, has in recent years been exposed training state and local police to view citizens’ speech as potential indicators of terrorism — including among damning public expression mundane matters such as bumper stickers promoting the Bill of Rights or a U.S. withdrawal from the UN. Ironically, at the time of the announcements on pilot cities, the DOJ was being led by disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder, who was held in criminal contempt of Congress for trying to stonewall an investigation into the administration’s “Fast and Furious” scheme to arm Mexican drug cartels.

The efforts to further nationalize and federalize law enforcement are also in line with Obama’s campaign rhetoric about building a “civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded” as the U.S. military. And critics say the agenda should be ringing alarm bells nationwide.

“Americans everywhere should be very concerned about oversight of local police agencies,” explained former detective Jim Fitzgerald, the national field director for The John Birch Society, the parent organization of this magazine. The constitutionalist group, which has chapters in all 50 states, has been running a campaign for decades called “Support Your Local Police and Keep Them Independent.” The effort is meant to, among other goals, protect local communities from having their police departments turned into tentacles of an all-powerful federal government.

“These steps to exercise and take control over police departments should raise a red flag among police officials and give deep concern to anyone who understands the history of national police forces,” continued Fitzgerald. “Have we so soon forgotten the Gestapo and the KGB, both national police agencies, that terrorized the citizens of Germany and Russia and led to the imprisonment and deaths of tens of thousands of innocent men and women? Has there ever been a national police force that benefited the citizens who live under it? Never!”

Of course, the nationalization of police did not begin with Obama, and it probably will not end with him. So-called fusion centers, pairing local and state officials with federal bureaucrats under the sprawling “Homeland Security” banner, have been in place since the George W. Bush administration. And a broad range of DOJ offices and programs has been quietly expanding federal control over police for decades. But the trends are accelerating, and the endgame is becoming more clear.

police under fire coverDecentralized government is one of the cornerstones of America’s freedom and its constitutional system of federalism. Even if Obama’s radical plans to nationalize police departments were not unconstitutional, though, history provides numerous examples showing why national policing is not just unwise, but extremely dangerous to liberty. Congress must rein in Obama, and in the meantime, state and local governments should refuse to surrender self-government to an out-of-control White House in exchange for unconstitutional federal bribes. The American people, if they hope to preserve liberty and self-government, should work to support their local police, and keep them independent;

Feds Crafting Race-obsessed Guidelines for NYPD

April 24, 2015

From The New American by Selwyn Duke, April 21, 2015

The feds may soon be coming to a police force near you. And if you live in New York City, they’re already present, trying to foist politically correct standards on Big Apple law enforcement.

The proposed central-government guidelines — which a court-appointed federal “monitor” overseeing their implementation claims were made with the cooperation of the NYPD and City Hall — are the consequence of a 2013 ruling that the department’s stop-and-frisk practices are “unconstitutional.” Of course, what’s certainly unconstitutional is federal control of local police, irrespective of whether or not, as the Barack Obama administration purports, the goal is to eliminate discrimination.

The New York Daily News reports on the story, writing:

The monitor, Peter Zimroth, asked Manhattan Federal Judge Analisa Torres on Monday to approve the stack of new training materials that will be presented to the class of cadets graduating in June.

He included in filings more than 75 PowerPoint slides that delve into the nitty-gritty of police work, detail constitutional stop-and-frisk practices — and give remedial directions that, it is hoped, the officers already know.

And what do these guidelines, formulated (at least partially) by the federal government, overseen by a federally appointed monitor, and to be approved by a federal judge, prescribe for the local police? Some rules are innocuous and reasonable, such as “Remember[,] most people are good, law-abiding citizens” and “don’t hassle people for no reason,” as the News puts it. Then there are the generic statements, one of which the News reports as being “Don’t be racist.” This is reminiscent of a line from a purposely ridiculous They Might be Giants song that instructs “Nice is better than mean.” Except that “mean” has clearer meaning and “nice” is less nebulous than “racist.” Does racism here merely refer to bigotry, the embrace of negative opinions about a group that have no basis in reality? Or, as many insist on doing, will unfashionable truths — such as blacks and Hispanics being responsible for 96 percent of all crime and 98 percent of gun crime in NYC — be labeled “racist”?

Speaking of which, another guideline states, “Don’t target certain races because they appear more often in local crime stats.” Is this “target” in the sense of harassment or simply viewing certain races as more likely to engage in certain behaviors? Some critics would reject the legitimacy of even the latter, but perspective is lent by altering the injunction: “Don’t target one sex or the other because it appears more often in local crime stats.” Should men’s greater tendency to engage in violent crime or the fact that most prostitutes are women be ignored by criminal science? If not, why should different standards apply to the races?

In the same vein, another guideline states, “Avoid expressing stereotypical assumptions” such as “He’s Irish but I’ve never seen him drunk” (or, presumably, “He’s a leftist politician but I’ve never seen him pick anyone’s pocket”). But is “stereotyping” being conflated with “observing characteristic group tendencies”? After all, if there weren’t differences among groups, we couldn’t even identify them as “groups.” And would this prohibition include not assuming that every white cop who shoots a black suspect is a “racist”?

Not surprisingly and continuing the obsession with race, another guideline reads, “Do not engage in racial profiling.” Again, though, definitions matter. What does “racial profiling” really mean other than that activists succeeded in mainstreaming an emotionally charged term? As I wrote in 2010:

There’s no such thing as “racial profiling.”  Rather, there are only two types of profiling:

Good profiling and bad profiling.

… Profiling is simply a method by which law enforcement can determine the probability that an individual has committed a crime or has criminal intent. And when making this determination, good profiling considers many different factors, such as dress, behavior, the car being driven, tattoos, sex, age, race, and ethnicity. Whatever the details, however, good profiling is practiced in accordance with sound criminological science. 

And because that science has been applied, I continued,

group-specific profiling is nothing unusual; for instance, law enforcement looks more suspiciously upon men and young people because those groups commit an inordinate amount of crime. Yet do we hear complaints of “sex profiling” or “age profiling”? Of course not, as we know that such practices are just common sense. But if this standard can be applied to men and youth, it’s only fair and just to apply the exact same standard to all other groups that commit an inordinate amount of a given crime. And when we refuse to do so — when we say that certain groups must receive a special dispensation from life’s realities because they enjoy privileged status — that is where the real discrimination lies.

Yet many today dismiss the above argument. When I gave a speech on profiling in Toronto, Canada, years ago and made the sex-profiling/double standard point, an opposing speaker dismissed it simply by saying, “What we’re talking about here is racial profiling, not sex profiling.” It was akin to justifying discrimination against one family and preferences for another by stating, “We’re talking here about Smiths, not Joneses,” as if the double standard’s legitimacy is self-explanatory. But why is it moral to profile one group but not another? If the determination isn’t being made based on the objective measure of crime statistics, what yardstick is being used?

Attorney, former law professor, and admitted ex-Marxist Jack Golbert provided the answer last Thursday: We’re no longer a nation of laws.

We’re a nation of status groups.

Addressing the recent cases wherein the government has punished Christian businessmen for not servicing homosexual affairs, he writes at American Thinker, “Not even the facts matter anymore. All that matters is status.” He then provides some examples:

White cop vs. black teenager: Who wins? You don’t even have to know what happened.

Privileged white males vs. black female: Who wins?

Hispanic vs. black teenager would be problematic because of the relatively equal statuses. So the media invented the status “White Hispanic” to decide the case against George Zimmerman for the death of [Trayvon] Martin. No need to know what happened, is there?

So now we have white Christian florist vs. gay couple getting married. The content of the law is irrelevant. What does your gut tell you about a case of Asian Muslim florist vs. gay couple getting married? It doesn’t feel the same as a white Christian florist, does it?

“Feel” is the right word. Research shows that a vast and growing majority of Americans now make decisions based on emotion, and what feels right today — especially to the elites — is political correctness. Of course, having safe streets feels right, too. But this just brings us to another reason why allowing Washington bureaucrats to control local police from afar is folly: It’s easy to advocate policy that yields unsafe streets when you don’t actually have to walk those streets.

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects “De Minimis” Extension of a Traffic Stop to Deploy a Drug Dog

April 22, 2015

From http://www.nccriminallaw.sog.unc.edu by Jeff Welty, April 22, 2015

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Rodriguez v. United States, an important traffic stop case that changes North Carolina law as it pertains to certain drug dog sniffs, and perhaps other investigative techniques as well.

Facts. Just after midnight, a Nebraska law enforcement officer saw a vehicle veer onto the shoulder of a state highway, then pull back onto the road. Nebraska law prohibits driving on the shoulder, so the officer stopped the vehicle. The driver provided the officer with his license, registration, and proof of insurance. The passenger provided his license as well. License and warrant checks on both men apparently came back clean, and the officer issued a warning ticket to the driver. The officer suspected that the driver might be involved in drug activity, so he asked the driver for permission to run the officer’s drug dog around the vehicle. The driver said no. The officer then called for backup and detained the driver for a few minutes until another officer arrived. At that point, the officer walked his dog around the vehicle twice and the dog alerted. The alert led to a search and the discovery of methamphetamine. The total delay to allow the drug dog to sniff the car was seven or eight minutes.

Procedural history. The defendant was charged in federal court with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. He moved to suppress. The district court denied the motion, ruling that the delay to allow the dog sniff was “de minimis” and did not implicate the Fourth Amendment. The defendant pled guilty and appealed the suppression issue. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court agreed to review the case, because courts across the country have divided regarding the permissibility of brief extensions of traffic stops to conduct investigation unrelated to the original basis for the stop.

The majority. Justice Ginsburg wrote for herself and five other Justices. She concluded that a stop may not be extended beyond the time necessary to complete the “mission” of the stop, which is “to address the traffic violation that warranted the stop . . . and attend to related safety concerns.” That is, “[a]uthority for the seizure ends when tasks tied to the traffic infraction are – or reasonably should have been – completed.” A dog sniff is not such a task “tied to the traffic infraction,” as it is “aimed at detecting ordinary criminal wrongdoing.” Therefore, if such a sniff prologs a stop at all, it violates the Fourth Amendment. There is no exception for “de minimis” delays.

The majority remanded the case to the court of appeals to determine whether, based on facts not summarized in this post, the officer’s decision to detain the driver might have been supported by reasonable suspicion.

The dissents. Justice Thomas wrote the principal dissent, arguing (1) that the 29-minute total duration of the stop was reasonable “for a traffic stop by a single officer of a vehicle containing multiple occupants”; (2) that the majority’s rule makes the permissible duration of a stop dependent on the identity of the officer, with an efficient officer who can address the traffic infraction quickly limited to a short stop, while a slower officer is permitted additional time; (3) that the majority draws a doubtful distinction between dog sniffs (not allowed, because they target ordinary criminal activity) and warrant checks (allowed by the majority as discussed further below, though arguably also addressing criminal activity rather than roadway safety); and (4) that the majority fails to differentiate between traffic stops based on reasonable suspicion, which might be more constrained, and those based on probable cause, which constitutionally could culminate with an arrest and so may be more expansive. Justice Thomas also believed that reasonable suspicion of drug activity supported the continued detention of the driver in this case. Justices Kennedy and Alito joined Justice Thomas, with Justice Alito writing a separate dissent that makes many of the same points made by Justice Thomas.

Effect on North Carolina law. At a minimum, Rodriguez effectively overrules State v. Brimmer, 187 N.C. App. 451 (2007) (“Courts . . . have held . . . that if the detention is prolonged for only a very short period of time, the intrusion is considered de minimis. As a result, even if the traffic stop has been effectively completed, the sniff is not considered to have prolonged the detention beyond the time reasonably necessary for the stop.”), and State v. Sellars, 222 N.C. App. 245 (2012) (similar).

But the impact of Rodriguez extends beyond dog sniffs. If an officer can’t extend a stop to deploy a dog, he or she can’t extend the stop to ask drug-related questions or seek consent to search, either. Professor Orin Kerr argues here that the case “is more important for its impact on police asking questions than [for its impact on the] use of drug-sniffing dogs,” because dog sniffs are uncommon but questions about matters unrelated to the basis for the stop are asked “all the time.” As noted in my paper on traffic stops, which is linked here, though now I need to revise it again, North Carolina law tended not to support delays for additional questioning even before Rodriguez, but the case certainly draws a line in the sand. It remains to be seen how much general chit-chat about travel plans and the like courts will permit incident to traffic stops.

So what’s an officer to do? Although Rodriguez is mostly about what officers can’t do, it also makes clear that officers certain activities are related to the “mission” of an ordinary traffic stop, so a reasonable amount of time may be spent on these activities:

  • Checking the driver’s license, registration, and insurance
  • Checking for outstanding warrants against the driver
  • Taking actions necessary to address safety concerns, such as ordering the driver out of the vehicle

Furthermore, officers may undertake investigative activities that do not relate to the original basis of the stop so long as the activities themselves do not implicate the Fourth Amendment, and so long as they do not extend – at all – the duration of the stop.

My guess is that many officers will respond to Rodriguez by multitasking: deploying a drug dog while waiting for a response on a license check, or asking investigative questions of the driver while filling out a citation. Defendants may argue that such multitasking inherently slows an officer down, and I can imagine difficult-to-resolve factual disputes about that.

I should also note that nothing in Rodriguez changes the rule that once a stop is complete and the driver’s paperwork has been returned, the officer may seek consent to pursue further investigation.

A word about warrant checks. Finally, I wanted to touch on a point of dispute between the majority and the dissent. The majority stated that an officer may check for outstanding arrest warrants for the driver during a traffic stop. That is apparently a common law enforcement practice. But, as noted by the dissent, it does not align very well with the majority’s reasoning that a stop should stay focused on its “mission” rather than general crime detection. The majority’s justification for permitting warrant checks is that they add to roadway safety by allowing an officer to determine whether a driver is wanted for other traffic offenses. That strikes me as a pretty weak argument – how many outstanding warrants are there for speeding? Furthermore, the principal authority the majority cites for that idea is Professor LaFave’s treatise, but Professor LaFave himself doubts whether warrant checks should be permitted. Wayne R. LaFave, The “Routine Traffic Stop” from Start to Finish: Too Much “Routine,” Not Enough Fourth Amendment, 102 Mich. L. Rev. 1843 (2004) (stating that “a rather compelling argument” can be made for abolishing warrant checks as insufficiently directed at the purpose of the stop, though noting that “there are at least some rational arguments” to the contrary).

A better argument might be that a warrant check is appropriate as an officer safety measure, i.e., that officers need to know whether they’re dealing with a fugitive who may have an incentive to assault, resist, or run from law enforcement. In any event, a majority of the Court has ruled that such checks are permissible, and perhaps the holding is more important than the reasoning.


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