In an effort to keep drugs under control in Flint, Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell has been using narcotics check points to stop and search vehicles. He has assembled a posse (no, really, he calls them his “Sheriff’s Posse”) and they are using drug dogs to check motorists for drugs.
“We think there’s major loads (of drugs) coming through here from all over, every day. And this is one of the tools we use—narcotics checkpoints.”
Motorists have seen a pickup, like the one shown here on the Detroit Free Press website, towing a sign that warns of the narcotics check point “1 mile ahead”. They’ve seen it in use on I-69 and U.S. 23, two of several major roadways that pass through and around Flint.
The problem with these checkpoints is they likely wouldn’t survive a challenge in court. In 1990, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that DUI checkpoints were illegal. Also, the United States Supreme Court made a ruling in 2000 that blanket narcotics checkpoints in Indiana violated the Constitutional protection of the 4th Amendment and where therefore also illegal.
Sheriff Pickell, however, says he welcomes a conversation with the ACLU and refuses to say whether or not the checkpoints have resulted in any big drug busts or any arrests at all.
Though the checkpoints originally stopped everyone, Pickell has made some adjustments due to the backlash. Now, he waits for a driver to spot the warning signs and make a U-turn or try to otherwise avoid the stop before pulling them over and searching the vehicle. University of Michigan professor Moran says even this tactic wouldn’t likely survive a court challenge, coming very close to entrapment.
Of the citizens most concerned with the Sheriff’s tactics are the state’s medical marijuana users. Though they are registered and allowed to have marijuana with them, the use of drug dogs and police search tactics can be intimidating nonetheless.
For now, there is no one in a place to put a stop to these checkpoints. They won’t likely stop until Pickell makes the decision to suspend them or until they are challenged in court after an arrest is made.
Your protection against unreasonable searches and seizures is provided by the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This is why police officers must have a warrant, your consent, or some other exigent circumstances to justify the searching of you, your vehicle, or your home.
If you’ve been arrested, the legality of your arrest and those things that led up to it will be of upmost concern to your attorney. Contact us today to discuss the case against you and how we might be able to help.