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Fake drug checkpoint in Mayfield Heights is legal, experts say
Cleveland Plain Dealer ^ | June 28, 2013 | Mark Gillispie,

Posted on 06/30/2013 10:21:04 AM PDT by Deadeye Division

MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Police are not allowed to use checkpoints to search motorists and their vehicles for drugs. So, in Mayfield Heights, officers are trying the next-best thing -- fake drug checkpoints.

Police gathered in the express lanes of Interstate 271 on Monday after placing signs along the freeway warning motorists that a drug checkpoint lay ahead.

There was no checkpoint, only police waiting for motorists to react suspiciously after seeing the signs. A Mayfield Heights assistant prosecutor says it's a lawful and legitimate tactic in his city's war on drugs.

"We should be applauded for doing this," Dominic Vitantonio said. "It's a good thing."

Civil libertarians and one of the people who was stopped and searched are skeptical. They wonder if officers were profiling motorists and whether anyone's Fourth Amendment right against unlawful searches and seizures was violated.

Nick Worner, a spokesman for the Cleveland office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said his office will examine the circumstances surrounding the fake checkpoint.

"We're going to be gathering information," Worner said. "That information will determine what we think is going on."

The fake checkpoints are legal, experts say. A 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling said actual checkpoints are not legal and that police can randomly stop cars for just two reasons: to prevent illegal aliens and contraband from entering the U.S. and to get drunk drivers off the road.

It's unclear if other police departments in Northeast Ohio have tried fake drug checkpoints.

On Monday, Mayfield Heights police placed a series of signs along the northbound I-271 express lanes that said: "Drug Checkpoint Ahead," "Police K9 Dog In Use" and "Be Prepared to Stop." Officers then watched how motorists reacted after seeing the signs.

Vitantonio said there were arrests and drugs seized. He said Thursday that four people were stopped and searched. Three of the motorists crossed through the grassy median or at emergency vehicle crossings, evasive actions that gave police reasonable suspicion to stop those cars.

The fourth motorist, Bill Peters of Medina, insists he did nothing wrong except to park on the side of the freeway to check his phone for directions. He was stopped and allowed police to search his car. Vitantonio said that if Peters had not given police permission to search, they would have had to let him go.

Peters, 53, said he was driving on I-271 around 11:30 a.m. when he missed the merge that would take him into the local lanes and allow him to exit at Wilson Mills Road. He said he pulled over to check his phone for directions. As he pulled back onto the freeway, he said his phone disconnected from the charger, so he returned to the berm to reconnect it.

He said he had seen the drug checkpoint signs and was not worried. Peters has long hair and distinguished heavy metal roots. He spent 26 years in sales and marketing for Warner Bros. Records, owns a music label, hosts a heavy metal radio show at John Carroll University and is an ardent promoter of local talent. Despite his background in a business where drugs are de rigueur, Peters insists he has never inhaled.

He wonders if officers targeted him because of his appearance.

"The last time I checked, it is not against the law to pull over to the side of the road to check directions," said Peters, who added that the officer who stopped him commended him for being safety conscious.

Vitantonio insisted that Peters gave police reasonable suspicion to pull him over.

After stopping and returning to the freeway, Peters said he saw a sign that said, "Be Prepared to Stop," which prompted him to slow a bit. Seconds later, a police car was behind him, lights flashing.

Peters said the officer asked if he was having car trouble. Peters explained why he had stopped on the berm and then slowed down. He said the officer quizzed him about what kinds of drugs he had in the car, saying it would be much easier to confess before other officers and a drug-sniffing dog arrived. Peters insisted he had no drugs. As promised, other officers and the dog were summoned.

"I see what they're doing, but I think it's kind of dangerous," Peters said. "It's one thing to do this on a 25 mph road, it's another on a busy interstate. I think it's a violation to just be pulled over and searched."

Ric Simmons, a law professor at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University, said police are allowed to deceive people, thus the fake checkpoint was legal.

"They can lie to anybody," Simmons said.

Prominent Cleveland civil rights attorney Terry Gilbert thinks the reason police stopped Peters is questionable. Gilbert said police are allowed to deceive suspects, but questioned the practice of lying to motorists about a fake drug checkpoint on a busy highway.

"I don't think it accomplishes any public safety goals," Gilbert said. "I don't think it's good to mislead the population for any reason if you're a government agency."

Michael Benza, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, said motorists often do not know their rights. You must stop when an officer pulls you over for a traffic violation, but it does not necessarily mean they can search your car without your permission. Police need to be able to provide a judge with a legal and valid reason for why they ordered a search of your car."


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; News/Current Events; US: Ohio
KEYWORDS: donutwatch

1 posted on 06/30/2013 10:21:04 AM PDT by Deadeye Division
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To: Deadeye Division

The government lies to you.
They want to trick you into doing something that you would not have otherwise done.
Then they come down on you like a ton of bricks.

That’s tyranny. We live in a terror state, and everyone is afraid of the government.


2 posted on 06/30/2013 10:25:09 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (21st century. I'm not a fan.)
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To: Deadeye Division

Revenue must be down.


3 posted on 06/30/2013 10:25:20 AM PDT by FlJoePa ("Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good")
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To: Deadeye Division

Sneaky, but I’m unable to come up with the element of illegality in this.


4 posted on 06/30/2013 10:25:25 AM PDT by Attention Surplus Disorder (Both parties are trying to elect a new PEOPLE.)
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To: Deadeye Division

Reminds me of that scene in Electra Glide in Blue where they hassle the hippie poster salesman.


5 posted on 06/30/2013 10:25:42 AM PDT by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
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To: Deadeye Division; ADemocratNoMore; Akron Al; arbee4bush; agrace; ATOMIC_PUNK; Badeye; ...

Ohio Ping


6 posted on 06/30/2013 10:26:16 AM PDT by Whenifhow
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To: Deadeye Division

This is satire right?


7 posted on 06/30/2013 10:26:54 AM PDT by The Louiswu (One brave man, that's all we need.)
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To: Deadeye Division

‘Gilbert said police are allowed to deceive suspects, but questioned the practice of lying to motorists about a fake drug checkpoint on a busy highway. ‘

At least this will not undermine the public’s faith and confidence in the police.

Is it ok then for the public to deceive and lie to the police?

I am curious where this falls under, ‘Serve and Protect.


8 posted on 06/30/2013 10:30:22 AM PDT by Delta Dawn (Fluent in two languages: English and cursive.)
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To: Deadeye Division
"We should be applauded for doing this," Dominic Vitantonio said. "It's a good thing."

I wonder how Dominic Vitantonio would feel about an "Italian Mafia Checkpoint Ahead" sign being put up.

9 posted on 06/30/2013 10:30:49 AM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Qui me amat, amat et canem meum.)
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To: Deadeye Division
Gee...lets take this to the logical step...

Police post signs that the speed limit is 70 MPH ahead next 5 miles... on a 40 MPH stretch of road...

Same principle...

10 posted on 06/30/2013 10:34:08 AM PDT by Popman (Godlessness is always the first step to the concentration camp.)
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To: FlJoePa

Demand for it is up as well.


11 posted on 06/30/2013 10:36:35 AM PDT by cableguymn (The founding fathers would be shooting by now..)
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To: Whenifhow

Just more of getting us used to The Police State...now they can strap you down and take a blood sample...But,”its legal”.


12 posted on 06/30/2013 10:36:43 AM PDT by Recovering Ex-hippie (Will Freepr combat)
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To: Deadeye Division

Would I be guilty of obstruction of non-justice if I held up a sign informing people that there was no checkpoint ahead? Is this similar to committing interference with revenue enhancement for putting up a “speed trap ahead, speed limit 35 mph” sign.


13 posted on 06/30/2013 10:36:54 AM PDT by KarlInOhio (This message has been recorded but not approved by Obama's StasiNet. Read it at your peril.)
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To: Deadeye Division

I have seen this more than once in Alabama & Mississippi .

A big sign that says ....Drug Checkpoint at exit 25, (that`s 2 exits away) as people bail out at exit 24..that`s where the real checkpoint is located. kinda funny to see cars backing down the exit ramp to avoid the trap.


14 posted on 06/30/2013 10:37:23 AM PDT by Einherjar
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To: ClearCase_guy

The hole in their logic is the use of the word “fake”. These are real drug checkpoints as evidenced by the fact that they are monitored by police, seized drugs, and made arrests. They are trying to hide behind a contrived definition of what constitutes “real”, but they are still illegal by the SCOTUS ruling cited in the articls. I hope this municipality is sued off the map.


15 posted on 06/30/2013 10:37:32 AM PDT by SpaceBar
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To: Deadeye Division

So, if you try to avoid a drug checkpoint because you do not want to be in a long line for the checkpoint, you wind up in a long line for a drug checkpoint. Curious!


16 posted on 06/30/2013 10:44:52 AM PDT by reg45 (Barack 0bama: Implementing class warfare by having no class.)
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To: Attention Surplus Disorder

Me neither, but I can see some potential liability issues stemming from the highway barricades, and the “observation of altered behavior” because of them.


17 posted on 06/30/2013 10:46:04 AM PDT by Cyber Liberty (I am a dissident. Will you join me? My name is John....)
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To: Recovering Ex-hippie; SunkenCiv

Georgia police strapping down citizens accused of drunk driving before forcibly drawing blood

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM5OnhhqBaQ


18 posted on 06/30/2013 10:47:05 AM PDT by Whenifhow
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To: Deadeye Division

Believe it was in FL few years ago when the Sheriffs Dept went to a couple select ‘crossovers’ and put NO U TURN/NO TURNS signs at the crossovers in the Median.
They then put up a large Sign board on side of road stating DRUG and ALCOHOL CHECK AHEAD, then sat there and picked off the cars making the ‘illegal’ UTURN.

Think Courts eventually threw all the cases out as it was called entrapment. Actually pretty slick as few, if any of the UTURNERS had NO contraband.


19 posted on 06/30/2013 10:48:59 AM PDT by xrmusn (6/98 --Inside every 'older' man there is a 'younger' man wondering "WTF happened")
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To: Einherjar

Yeah, real funny when I’m driving my husband to the doctor.


20 posted on 06/30/2013 10:53:00 AM PDT by BykrBayb (Somewhere, my flower is there. ~ Þ)
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To: Deadeye Division

If the Cops ran a “Conservative” check point, they would be praised to the skies!


21 posted on 06/30/2013 10:54:03 AM PDT by YHAOS
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To: Deadeye Division
We can't do anything about the illegals inside our nation. What are we doing to do, capture them and send them back home? That will never happen. It's impossible...

However, we find it is possible to address large bodies of the U. S. public to achieve results when they want to.

22 posted on 06/30/2013 10:54:15 AM PDT by DoughtyOne (Breaking News: Hillary not running in 2016. Brain tumor found during recent colonoscopy...)
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To: P.O.E.

Do you know who played the hippies in that movie? It was a bunch of the guys from the original Chicago.


23 posted on 06/30/2013 11:00:08 AM PDT by Slump Tester (What if I'm pregnant Teddy? Errr-ahh -Calm down Mary Jo, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it)
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To: Deadeye Division
Fake drug checkpoint in Mayfield Heights is legal
What most are missing here is that even a "legal" drug checkpoint violates the 4th Amendment right tp protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Without probable cause, no checkpoint should be legal regardless if it's for safety reasons, DUI, drugs, whatever.
24 posted on 06/30/2013 11:00:35 AM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: Cyber Liberty

There is a piece of entrapment in this, but it is not as bad as what is commonly allowed, as I see it.

For example, if the cops see a car pull a handbrake turn and screech into an illegal U-turn over the median 100 yds after the sign....that’s IMO voluntary VERY suspicious behavior.

We see cops placing ads in newspaper with lists of the names of wanted felons (or fugitives or arrest warrants) as lottery winners...and such spoofs inevitably results in some very low cost arrests. And....we laugh at those, do we not? How is this different than such a spoof? [answering my own question] Existing warrants are existing, this is “fishing”.

I’m not defending nor attacking here, just discussing.

There’s no question that the suspicious behavior that will become the stop & request to search premise is cop-induced. I guess for me, the piece of criticality is how the searches are conducted. If they are conducted under duress, then that’s already illegal (not that it isn’t done)

And Tennessee and some Southern State cops are fanatical about seizing any amounts of cash they find over pocket money amounts.


25 posted on 06/30/2013 11:00:53 AM PDT by Attention Surplus Disorder (Both parties are trying to elect a new PEOPLE.)
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To: Deadeye Division

I see this tactic on I-70 in Missouri. They put the sign up right before an exit in a rural area that has no services, then wait for vehicles that suddenly exit.


26 posted on 06/30/2013 11:01:30 AM PDT by Second Amendment First
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To: Deadeye Division
There was no checkpoint, only police waiting for motorists to react suspiciously after seeing the signs.

So basically, the government lies to citizens and proceeds to harass those who "react suspiciously".

What is "suspiciously"? If I pound my steering wheel in frustration at the prospect of having my commute delayed by this kind of moronic nonsense, is that "suspicious"?


27 posted on 06/30/2013 11:10:24 AM PDT by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: Attention Surplus Disorder

It just feels to me that law enforcement has the wrong priorities a lot of the time if the goal is actual public safety. Just how many unsolved murders are there in the state of Ohio, for example?

The Uniform Crime Report from the FBI in 2011 says Ohio reported 513 criminal (non-justified) homicides. And we know in America that less than 2/3rds of murders are ever solved. So every single year, Ohio accumulates another 175 or so unsolved slayings. I don’t mean to pick on Ohio; it’s the same in other states.

You’d think that getting MURDERERS off the streets would be a high priority, but in practice, it takes a backseat to all kinds of other revenue enforcement nonsense. The focus here in Ohio seems inappropriate when there are much more pressing concerns, like several THOUSAND unsolved killings over the past couple decades.

Sure, maybe one of these checkpoints will catch a murder suspect by accident, but that’s a slender reed at best.


28 posted on 06/30/2013 11:12:22 AM PDT by seacapn
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To: Deadeye Division
Ohio has signs that say "Drug activity impaired drivers call 677" all along the interstates, which is a curious way to state their message. But I suppose they do get an occasional driver who is so stoned that they do call on themselves...
29 posted on 06/30/2013 11:17:29 AM PDT by Kenton
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To: Deadeye Division

A real pain-in-the-a$$ kind of guy, utilizing today’s modern cell phone technology (read: Flash Mob) could do a bit of their own fakery.

Enlist the flash mob to “act suspiciously” and tie up all of the available cops. Do this repeatedly. Of course, you would need to be “clean”. You could also instruct ALL of them to refuse to allow the cops to execute a “search”...


30 posted on 06/30/2013 11:23:29 AM PDT by Paisan
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To: Slump Tester

Always liked side two of Chicago VII. I think I still have my vinyl copy with the pseudo-leather-tooled cover.


31 posted on 06/30/2013 11:23:40 AM PDT by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
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To: Popman

Nope, not even close.

In your scenario, the police are lying to motorists in order to get them to break the law.

In the scenario present in the article, the police are lying to motorist to observe them and see if they engage in suspicion behavior leading to probable cause to stop them. Police are not encouraging illegal activity in this case.

Although I am not a huge fan of this tactic, it is nothing like the scenario you describe.


32 posted on 06/30/2013 11:39:36 AM PDT by dpa5923 (Small minds talk about people, normal minds talk about events, great minds talk about ideas.)
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To: Deadeye Division
A crime in my book requires a victim.

When the victim is the arrestee / defendant, there is no crime.

33 posted on 06/30/2013 11:45:15 AM PDT by elkfersupper ( Member of the Original Defiant Class)
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To: Deadeye Division

I’ve met Peters a couple of times. He was interviewing a good friend of mine on his show. I called up just to goof on them. Hilarious. He’s a good guy.


34 posted on 06/30/2013 11:46:20 AM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: Attention Surplus Disorder
4th Amendment. I don't think Police can legally create the situation to harass you
then hold you accountable for any charges.
35 posted on 06/30/2013 11:48:31 AM PDT by MaxMax (If you're not pissed off, you're not paying attention)
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To: Deadeye Division

Police will do anything to trash the US Constitution. There is nothing they despise more, unless they are the ones in trouble.


36 posted on 06/30/2013 11:49:00 AM PDT by microgood
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To: Deadeye Division

Police waiting for motorists to react suspiciously after seeing the signs.
LOL bet they have the best you tube material yet.


37 posted on 06/30/2013 12:11:23 PM PDT by Vaduz
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To: Deadeye Division

“He spent 26 years in sales and marketing for Warner Bros. Records, owns a music label, hosts a heavy metal radio show at John Carroll University and is an ardent promoter of local talent. Despite his background in a business where drugs are de rigueur, Peters insists he has never inhaled. “

He can say what he wants, but the picture of him doesn’t lie. He’s very lucky he didn’t have anything on him that day.


38 posted on 06/30/2013 12:28:51 PM PDT by BobL (To us it's a game, to them it's personal - therefore they win.)
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To: Deadeye Division
Ric Simmons, a law professor at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University, said police are allowed to deceive people, thus the fake checkpoint was legal.

"They can lie to anybody," Simmons said.

Another example of something that may be legal, but still isn't a good idea. If the public comes to believe that the police are frequently lying to them, then the public is much less likely to support the police either politically or personally. After all, if they are lying about the checkpoint they might also be lying about their need for new equipment, or a pension, or what a reasonable salary for them would be. And that certainly doesn't help politically.

Moreover, successful police operations depend on the support of the community. If you alienate the community by lying to them, then you can lose the access to information necessary for successful policing.

It may turn out that it isn't illegal for anyone to lie about checkpoints ahead. That might provide a new source of amusement for radio hosts, revenue for temporary sign makers, and even a way to get more traffic to your diner.

39 posted on 06/30/2013 12:41:10 PM PDT by freeandfreezing
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To: Deadeye Division

How about some fake “Immigration checkpoint” signs ahead?


40 posted on 06/30/2013 12:42:37 PM PDT by Atlas Sneezed (Universal Background Check -> Registration -> Confiscation -> Oppression -> Extermination)
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To: Atlas Sneezed

Didn’t you know all citizens that are not
Government employed are looked at as criminals!
With any traffic stop many violations of the law can be found and you pay the piper! It’s snag and drag time all will bow to the will of your Local LEO and be targeted by the FEDs. Face it you will become a Criminal in some way! Cities only want to agitate and keep the hype up. Population needs to move and show these Cities they will not be criminalized by JAck Booted Thugs, with no pure law intent! Leave these Cities for ones that want prosperous law abiding citizens that we are. Could be the next new Great Population drive to freedom Leaving Ghost towns in their wake! I’m sure the newley amnestitised immigrant will pay taxes and provide police cars and wages and fuel for the local Cops to terriorize the community!


41 posted on 06/30/2013 1:34:30 PM PDT by Conserev1 ("Still Clinging to my Bible and my Weapon")
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To: Deadeye Division
"They can lie to anybody," Simmons said.

And they do this!

42 posted on 06/30/2013 1:56:01 PM PDT by rawhide
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To: Deadeye Division

Agents of the State lie to you: A-ok, Citizen

You lie to The Agents of the State: Obstruction of Justice


43 posted on 06/30/2013 6:15:21 PM PDT by Altariel ("Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!")
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