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Maine cops conduct illegal roadblock with federal funds

Written by Subject: Police State

It appears that illegal multi-jurisdictional dragnet roadblocks are no longer just a phenomena of Southwest Arizona. These intrusive suspicionless enforcement operations continue to proliferate in communities across America at an alarming rate. Worse yet, many are being paid for in full by so-called 'Homeland Security' grants designed more to commandeer local law enforcement for federal purposes than safeguard local communities.

Take for instance this multi-jurisdictional roadblock that took place in Washington County, Maine on May 14, 2007. According to the article, there were no less than six enforcement agencies involved from local, state and federal jurisdictions - including three K-9 units. The agencies represented included:
  1. The Washington County Sheriff Department
  2. U.S. Customs
  3. The Rockport Police Department
  4. The Maine State Police
  5. The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency
  6. U.S. Border Patrol

In a tortured interpretation of court rulings regarding suspicionless checkpoints, County Sheriff Don Smith claimed the roadblock in question was perfectly legal based on the following rational:

"There's a difference between a checkpoint and a roadblock", Sheriff Donnie Smith said Monday. "We have the legal right to check vehicles. We go to secondary check if for some reason they stand out, that's legal", Smith said.

What Sheriff Smith fails to mention is that the Supreme Court has only created 4th amendment loopholes for suspicionless sobriety and immigration checkpoints. The court has never authorized suspicionless checkpoints for the purpose of general crime control and have in fact struck down roadblocks that included drug interdiction as part of the operation.

So what kind of roadblock did we have in this case? Sheriff Smith was only too happy to tell us:

"What we are doing, we're just doing an overall check. We're looking for anything suspicious from illegal aliens, drug trafficking and safety checks."

The above quote coupled with the fact that the roadblock was paid for in full from an $80,000 federal 'homeland security' grant makes it clear this checkpoint was in fact illegal - even by U.S. Supreme Court standards:

Indianapolis v. Edmund: Because the checkpoint program's primary purpose is indistinguishable from the general interest in crime control, the checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment.

The only real question to consider is whether or not the good people of Washington County, Maine will continue to allow their elected county sheriff to violate the law and abridge the right of the people to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Or will they hold Sheriff Smith and his band of highway men accountable for their illegal transgressions.

2 Comments in Response to

Comment by Terry Bressi
Entered on:
If someone from Maine wanted to gather together documentation regarding these roadblocks, I**Q**d be willing to put it together on a website like I recently did regarding Boulder City, Nevada **Q** roadblocks.

I**Q**d be especially interested in a copy of the following documents:

* The **Q**Homeland Security**Q** grant the county sheriff used to pay for the roadblock
* Departmental checkpoint guidelines from the participating agencies
* The checkpoint Operations Plan
* Statistics from the roadblock in question.

This documentation should be accessible using Maine**Q**s version of the Open Records law.

There**Q**s little that authority hates more than public scrutiny of their actions...

Comment by Jean Carbonneau
Entered on:

Terry, nice catch here. Living here in Maine, I can tell you that Washington County, which is located along the Atlantic Coast, and near Canada, is the poorest county in Maine, and has the highest unemployment in the state. The state loves to harrass the poor since they can**Q**t fight back. Must have taken this out of the IRS harrass page book.

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