Skip to comments.Uncivil Liberties in Maryland
Posted on 06/13/2005 8:40:46 AM PDT by Nasty McPhilthy
On June 2, Margaret Engel Adams and Kathy Phelan hosted an intergenerational party in the Phelans backyard. It was a celebration of their daughters graduations from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. The party included a moon bounce, a popcorn machine and a blues band. Hotdogs, hamburgers, popcorn, smores, iced tea, sodas and fruit juice were served. The graduates families and friends were enjoying the party when Montgomery County (MD) police officers came to the door at approximately 9:30 PM. The officers stated that they were responding to a noise complaint. Rather than asking Phelan to turn the music down, the officers, who did not have a warrant, asked if they could Breathalyze party guests under the age of 21.
The officers were from the Alcohol Enforcement Section, a unit that concentrates on underage drinking. The offense this unit was concerned about was that teenagers had been observed drinking from plastic, party cups. We all know it is impossible to drink a non-alcoholic beverage from a disposable, plastic cup.
"Breathalyze the guests" is the type of party game that puts a damper on festivities regardless of whether the party included alcohol. Phelan refused the officers request because alcohol was not being served to minors. The officer in charge of the unit told Phelan that roadblocks would be set up at each end of her street if she refused. She told them that would be fine.
The roadblocks were set up. Breath tests were administered to teens leaving the party. None of the teens tested positive and no one was driving under the influence, so that should have been the end of it.
Things were far from over: The officers returned to the Phelans home and asked Mrs. Phelan to produce her drivers license despite the fact that she wasnt driving. After she refused, the officers ticketed almost a dozen cars parked on the street for minor parking infractions. Mrs. Adams and Mrs. Phelan wrote letters to the Police Chief and several county officials requesting disciplinary action against the officers and apologies to their daughters. On June 6, Deputy Chief John King called Adams to apologize and let her know he is "looking into" the incident.
Have we become a society where it is acceptable for police to try to intimidate citizens into allowing entry into their homes and medical testing of the occupants? In this case, there was no evidence of underage drinking: No one appeared intoxicated. The noise complaint was a ruse since the officers never asked the hosts to turn the music down. The officers asked to test all guests under 21 rather than guests who appeared intoxicated. Has being young become evidence of law breaking?
The officers probably wouldnt have issued parking tickets if Phelan had allowed them to Breathalyze the guests and had shown them her drivers license. She was not obligated to comply. Such entry and testing without a warrant is unreasonable search and seizure. As for the drivers license, have we becomes a "show me your papers" society?
Drunk driving is a public safety problem that is serious enough that sobriety checkpoints are acceptable. However, drinking and driving are not necessarily done together. They are separate issues. Underage drinking in and of itself is not enough of a threat to public safety to warrant violations of peoples civil liberties in the absence of concrete evidence.
According to the Montgomery County Police Departments own website, in 2004, 18 murders, 139 forcible rapes, 967 aggravated assaults, 160 arsons and 788 robberies occurred in the county. With those numbers in mind, is disrupting a parentally supervised graduation party the best use of police time and manpower?
That wasnt the only recent use of police time for minor violations. Maryland State Police borrowed night vision goggles from the military and spent three hours on June 1 scanning 3,200 vehicles for seat belt violations. They issued 111 $25.00 tickets. While $2,775.00 isnt a bad haul for three hours, law enforcement should be about public safety rather than revenue. Governor Ehrlich did stop the use of night vision goggles for that purpose, but kept seat belt law enforcement a priority. Those who fail to use seat belts endanger themselves, but pose no risk to others. If this is a free country, shouldnt people be free to be stupid?
Is a society where government agents can demand entry into homes and testing of occupants without warrants and can watch law abiding citizens, (of the cars scanned, 96.5% were not ticketed), with night vision goggles what the Founding Fathers had in mind? The violation of peoples civil liberties is worse when it is being done to find minor violations, giving little benefit to society as a whole. Police powers exist to protect society not to harass it.
A scary story...abuse of power...keep the others in line by making an example.
The fourth amendment is totally dead. But at least teens can't drink. Somehow that doesn't seem like a good trade.
Welcome to the People's Republik of Montgomery County... home of "Nuclear Free" Takoma Park, where you don't even have to be a US citizen to vote in city elections. The place is full of leftover hippie socialists, limosine liberals, and loads of immigrants with the UN mentality.
These people chose, of their own free will, to live in Montgomery County, Maryland, a known enclave of squish-heads. It is and has been for decades a People's Republic. Should not be surprised that Big Brother has arrived, he was waiting in the car all along.
WRONG, not read the rest of this yet, but that right there is bogus
here is the way you do it,,, first, you need a gun, and then....
And home of County Exec. Doug Duncan, wannabe gubernatorial hopeful of the Democrat Party. Will the Maryland Republican Party file this sort of behavior away for later use? ...doubtful.
She should sue every party and entitiy she can find. Hopefully discovery will reveal the true motive for this disturbing incident.
The biggest myth in America today is that cops treat white people well. The little jack booted thugs are just as out of control with whites as with any other group. And I say that as a strong supporter of law enforcement, but a lot of cops ARE pigs.
Bethesda-Chevy Chase HS, '70, here.
It has amazed me over the years to see what has happened to my old stomping grounds.
Montgomery County used to be very Republican, I can't remember exactly when it started to turn to the dark side. Of course, I used to be on the dark side then, and,hey, I saw the light. Maybe there is hope for the others.
The writer was obviously being sarcastic becasue he didn't find the inference reasonable.
I think after the driver's license request, in addition to calling the PD brass, I'd have called the local TV stations and see if any of them were interested in taping and broadcasting the cops at the end of my block intent on violating my Constitutional rights.
I hate this phrase, "unreasonable search and seizure."
The way most people and many judges and police "interpret" the 4th amendment and I think incorrectly, is that police can search your car, your home, your person, without a warrant, as long as it is not "unreasonable."
That being the case, the 4th amendment is meaningless. Defining what is "unreasonable" is almost a case by case endeavor, time consuming and expensive to pursue.
If the 4th amendment was read correctly, it is obvious that a warrant is always needed when there is going to be people and items "searched...and...seized."
It is my contention that the first part of 4th amendment states the philosophy behind why a "warrant" is always needed for a search and seizure.
The proceudre required to obtain a "warrant" is designed to help protect the citizens against "unreasonable" search and seizures, which without such a procedure, the citizen is always subject to the officers mood and agenda, as illustrated in this article about the party in Maryland.
i agree with you. that might explain why the idiot author thinks sobriety checkpoints are "ok" . notice he didn't say "constitutional". he probably thinks the use of drug sniffing dogs are ok too... all for the good of "public safety" of course (rolling eyes here).
maybe they were those toddler sipping cups....full of whiskey and vodka
AMEN to that! A society that aims to protect adults from their own idiocy does much more harm than good. What are we going to see next, doctors sending state troopers door-to-door to make sure all registered diabetics are taking their insulin, and hauling them off to jail if they refuse? Seriously, stories like this can make civil libertarians of the rightest of right-wingers.
The sad part is that some freepers think these laws are ok..
IMO, they fall under "unreasonable search and .....".
That is sad. I would think everybody who values freedom - as I believe most of us on this board do - would see these overreaching laws as intrusive and completely unnecessary.
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