Pubdate: Sat, 16 Jun 2012
Source: Daily Camera (Boulder, CO)
Copyright: 2012 The Daily Camera.
Author: Sarah Shurtleff


The day after the checkpoint on U.S. 36, my daughter was driving 
alone through Idaho and was stopped by a state trooper who claimed he 
thought her tinted windows might not conform to Idaho's requirements. 
Is this a "lawful traffic contact for some identified violation?" 
Doesn't sound like it to me. Sounds like fishing.

The windows passed muster. He then stated that her eyes looked very 
red and asked her about alcohol or marijuana use. Presumably his 
personal opinion of her eyes is the "additional probable cause" 
indicating narcotics in the vehicle? More fishing. She sent me a 
picture of her eyes by phone. They weren't red.

He then asked her to get out of the vehicle and accompany him to the 
rear, tested her for both alcohol and marijuana intoxication, claimed 
her "eyelids fluttered" when closed and on the basis of this asked 
her for permission to search the truck, which was full of outdoor 
gear from her recent trip through the Grand Canyon.

It's all very well for people to know that they can legally refuse a 
search request but how realistic is that? There she was, alone on the 
road, confronted by a uniformed officer. Most people believe that if 
you refuse you risk either antagonizing the police or at the least, 
triggering them to make the process even more cumbersome. He told her 
that if she refused, he could call for a dog but it would take much 
longer. The presumption is that if you refuse, you have something to 
hide. Most people just want to get it over with. So much for civil rights.

He took all her stuff out and laid it next to the road. He poked and 
prodded. Curiously, he wasn't interested in her cooler of beer, her 
prescription medications or the bag of white powder he decided by 
looking was climbing chalk. Eventually he let her go.

Does this incident or the checkpoint on U.S. 36 make me feel that me 
and my family are safer on the roads? It doesn't. I am much more 
afraid of police empowered to harass, intimidate and invade ordinary 
citizens on the open highway as we go about our business than I am of 
the drug trade with whom I have no interaction and who appear to 
prefer to keep to themselves.

And what does that make of this country? Have we come to this? We are 
sending men and women to be killed overseas in the defense of freedom 
while at home we tolerate a police state. When was the last time you 
were stopped on the highway by a drug runner?

A recent issue of More magazine contains an article about the rampant 
gateway to addiction in this country that is the result of 
pharmaceutical drugs being irresponsibly prescribed by the medical 
profession. Maybe the police should be patrolling doctor's offices.


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