Extremists in the law enforcement community pursuing the futile and idiotic war on drugs have no trouble disregarding the U.S. Constitution to achieve their ends, with the latest example being Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell.
Claiming that Flint is a crossroads for illegal drug dealing, Pickell has the Sheriff’s Department operating sporadic drug checkpoints on the I-69 and US-23 freeways near Flint. Sometimes motorists have been stopped at these checkpoints, along with those who make illegal u-turns in the freeway medians to avoid them. Drug-sniffing dogs are used to check for illegal drugs.
The problem with these checkpoints is that they are illegal, barred by the Fourth Amendment protection against illegal searches and seizures. In the absence of a search warrant, vehicles on the road can only be searched by law enforcement agencies if there is probable cause that a crime has been committed. Roadblocks can only be set up to search all cars in an area only if a crime has just been committed. But with checkpoints operating at any time and every circumstance, there is no probable cause.
In setting up the checkpoints, Pickell didn’t consult with Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, who finds them likely to be illegal. Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 2000 Indiana case, previously declared that drug checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment. Similarly, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that sobriety check lanes, designed to nail drunken drivers, are also illegal. Stopping people who make u-turns to avoid the drug checkpoints is also likely to run afoul of the Fourth Amendment as a form of entrapment.
A court challenge from someone arrested at a drug checkpoint will in all likelihood end this police state practice, but not after those caught in them have dealt with the expenses and hassle of the criminal justice system, while medical marijuana patients are avoiding the Flint area to escape harassment. The checkpoints are a disgusting example of the war on drugs at its un-American worst.