What is Homeland Security doing training local police to operate “drug checkpoints”?
Today the Denver Post published an editorial condemning the Westminster Police “drug checkpoints” that I wrote about last week. The editorial follows Vincent Carroll’s June 15 piece on the same topic for the Post‘s opinion blog.
The Daily Camera, which the Post cites, published the first newspaper account (to my knowledge) of the “drug checkpoints”:
Westminster police stopped 23 cars and made one arrest at a high-profile drug checkpoint in the Boulder-bound lanes of U.S. 36. . . .
Of the 23 stopped, it’s unclear how many were searched for drugs, but three traffic tickets were issued, and one man was arrested on suspicion of felony marijuana possession, [police investigator Trevor] Materasso said.
The Post also cites a Colorado Independent story that contains the information about Homeland Security:
In a Friday email to the Independent, Materasso added that the drug stop operations have not been designed by the Westminster force in isolation but are a product of interactions with federal agencies.
“The operation [was] established based on training provided by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and Homeland Security, which has guidelines, protocols and procedures to ensure Constitutional rights are not violated. These govern how we conduct this type of operation.”
The Post rightly retorts, “[J]ust because a policy does not, strictly speaking [and according to the courts], violate constitutional rights hardly means it earns an A-plus for respecting civil liberties.”
I checked in with Cory Lamz, one of the two Camera reporters who covered the story, and he said his paper got a news tip about the “drug checkpoints” and that multiple staff members also saw the signs as they drove by on Highway 36. Once he started working on the story, he said, he saw my initial post on the subject and then asked my wife and me for a statement.
What I want to know is this: What does training local police to search innocent people’s cars for drugs without substantial reason have to do with “Protecting the Homeland”? In this case, the threats against which Americans need protection are the police abuses encouraged by the Department of Homeland Security and the other agencies involved.
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