Pubdate: Fri, 15 Mar 2002
Source: Weekly Planet (FL)
Copyright: 2002 Weekly Planet Inc.
Author: Stephen Heath


Re: "A Matter of Public Record" by Fawn Germer (Feb. 20-26)

Nice job highlighting one of the key weapons citizens can have in
their arsenal when dealing with public agencies and

An additional and perhaps most important freedom of information tool
available to all Floridians is open access to the performance and
history of Florida's police agents.

All on-the-job records are available for police officers, most notably
their history for making false or exaggerated claims about traffic
offenses and drug arrests. Many drug arrests have their foundation in
an initially questionable cause for a traffic stop and the resulting
search of the motorist and vehicle.

We teach our members and the public in our awareness forums the urgent
need to request an officer's file anytime they are cited for a traffic
violation that may be without merit. And we also believe it is
essential for any case involving search and seizure. Checking an
officer's record can possibly provide supporting evidence that the
officer routinely has questionable searches or questionable radar
readings for alleged speeders.

The most frequent abuse we find is officers claiming to have received
consent to search when in fact the opposite is true. One of the most
common "failures" is found in police drug dogs. When these dogs
register a "hit" and a search results, it is often presumed that
probable cause exists. However, many dogs, when their record is
inspected, are found to give false "hits" in well over half their
cases. This can be a legitimate and successful Fourth Amendment-based

If you feel you have a legitimate beef with either a traffic citation
or a drug arrest we strongly recommend filing an FOIA request
immediately as a tool for your defense.

It is our belief that the majority of police officers perform their
jobs with honesty and sincere intent. However, we also know that the
primary reasons for police dishonesty and corruption are those
associated with their being the frontline soldiers in the War Against
Americans, a.k.a. the War Against Drugs.

Drug Policy Forum of Florida
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MAP posted-by: S Heath(DPF of Florida)