More Suspicionless Checkpoints in Torrance

Filed under Diary

On Saturday, December 19th, 2009 Torrance Police Department operated another suspicionless checkpoint from 8:00 pm to 3:00 am.

The location of the checkpoint was ensconced in the eastbound lanes of the 4300 block of Pacific Coast Highway. This checkpoint was ostensibly conducted in an effort to reduce the number of persons killed and/or injured due to alcohol-related collisions.

During this operation, more than 1,600 vehicles were unconstitutionally searched, 11 drivers were caught driving under the influence, 16 drivers were caught and released for driving while unlicensed or on a suspended drivers license, and 23 vehicles were seized.

Torrance PD claims their goal is to reduce those senselessly injured or killed by impaired drivers as well as insure that drivers had valid drivers licenses.  It represents mission creep of the most basic sort because originally, the checkpoints were announced, all of date, time, and location.  The official purpose of announcing the details was to bring awareness to the program, but I believe the purpose of announcing the details was to get the public to accept the original proposal.  Over time, these announcements have become spotty and unreliable (see my previous mentions for details).

But since they got their foot in the door to conduct these unconstitutional searches without resistance, they have and will expand the purpose.  I have no doubt that eventually, Torrance will have nightly checkpoints, searching for anything they want.  How long it takes for them to creep up to it is difficult to say.

Police departments across the country hold, unofficially, that any action they take is legal until a court tells them it is illegal.  Which means if you want to resist this on principle, you must:

  1. Be aware of the checkpoint activity (even if they "forget" to post it).
  2. Be in a vehicle traveling on the correct road that night (if you can find their position).
  3. Be stopped (who knows, they might wave you through if their donut-run is eminent).
  4. Be asked to voluntarily wave your rights protected by the 4th and 5th Amendments.
  5. Be prepared to be assaulted if you do not wave the rights above.
  6. Be prepared to have your license revoked.
  7. Be prepared to have your vehicle seized and impounded.
  8. Be prepared to spend the night in jail.

If all of the above happens, you might then have a legal tort to begin the long arduous process of getting a complaint heard by the powers that be.  Even if you manage to get justice for standing up on principle, that doesn't mean the checkpoints will then stop.  So you'll have to be prepared to do it all again when the time comes.  How likely is it there is even one person living in or around Torrance with that kind of resources to devote to something like this?  So instead, we roll over and let them do whatever they want.

Torrance PD will eventually try to take it to the wall.  Citizens will not see this as for what it is.  They actually believe these checkpoints make everyone safer, so they'll gladly continue to give up incremental liberty to get what they think is a little extra safety.  This is what you want, right?

Posted via email from Anthony Martin's Weblog


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