My Turn: Cops " Protectors or public nuisance?
August 11, 2008
Are we sick of it yet people? The checkpoint sting two Saturday nights ago in Kings Beach has to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, or should I say the sheep’s back?
How much more over-policing are we going to stand for? In the middle of July, on one of the busiest weekends of the year, the CHP teamed with Placer County Sheriffs to stop all traffic in Kings Beach to check for licenses and possible DUIs.
Locals are delayed from their errands and tourists are annoyed by the intrusion into their peaceful getaway into the mountains. As a Kings Beach local, I enjoy the down times, but many businesses need the tourism during the busy times to make it. Overbearing police enforcement will deter tourists from the North Lake Tahoe area, perhaps pushing them to frequent South Lake Tahoe or another destination all together.
Moreover, Fourth Amendment violations are inherent in such police tactics. The Fourth Amendment protects our right to be free of searches and seizures without probable cause. “A person has been ‘seized’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment only if, in view of all of the circumstances surrounding the incident, a reasonable person would have believed that he was not free to leave.” (United States v. Mendenhall http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0446_0544_ZS.htmlandgt; , 446 U.S. 544, 100 S.Ct. 1870 (1980)
So where is the probable cause for simple traveling down North Lake Boulevard through Kings Beach? There isn’t any. Our rights are being trampled by the very people we hire to protect us.
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Somebody has got to say it. The police are not so much public protectors anymore as they are a public nuisance.
The legislators don’t help the police-public relationship either when they encourage click-it-or-ticket campaigns and create laws like the hands free cell phone law. What’s next? Can I drink a cup of coffee while driving? Can I turn the knob on my stereo? Can I drive and chew gum?
I realize some people may have difficulty driving while talking, but that is not I, or most people for that matter. I don’t see why we all must be held to the lowest common denominator of humanity with these ridiculous laws. Incidentally, I was never afforded the opportunity to vote on this law, were you?
Almost worse than our loss of liberties is the way these laws turn the police into the adversary of the public. Instead of looking out for real safety issues on the streets and perhaps even preventing real crime, police are now looking into the cars of the common citizens to see if they can get us, fine us, bust us.
I’m digressing slightly, but the root of the problem is the same. The police are harassing the public, and they are apparently given license and permission to do so by our legislature and the various police chiefs in charge of their respective departments.
Does anybody else find it ironic that on the holiday that our country celebrates its independence from tyrannical government, the Fourth of July, the police are out in force busting more people than ever? They prohibited alcohol on the Truckee River that day and handed out public intoxication tickets. It’s enough to make you wish we were still under British rule.
We have to stop letting this happen. We have to stop being sheep and take a stand against over-policing in our own hometown. We need to organize and come up with ideas. Perhaps we can cut the number of police, or at least keep the county from importing more during the summer. Perhaps we can cut their salaries, or form a committee of citizens to oversee police activities.
In the United States, the supposed “land of the free,” we incarcerate more people than in any other country on the planet both by rate and gross number ” approximately 2 million people reside in jails or prisons on any given day. The next closest is China with 1.4 million incarcerated, but they have five times our population.
It is time we do our part to put a stop to overly aggressive policing by stopping it right here in our home, the North Shore of Tahoe. We don’t like it and we don’t want it. I would love to see your feedback in the paper about this issue. Certainly, you can contact me directly with your opinion at email@example.com Peace.
Colby Friend is a Kings Beach resident.