Security theater, local version

Not the one in Lafayette, but pretty much the same.

Not the one in Lafayette, but pretty much the same.

 

Coming home Friday night, Gail and I got off the freeway at Pleasant Hill road to find a sea of red lights and orange cones.  Just past the next stop light was a sobriety checkpoint, the opener to a big holiday weekend where the cops pretend to be doing something useful while collecting scads of overtime.

Notice that I said the checkpoint was beyond the stoplight.  Since there is no probable cause to stop everyone, the Supreme Court has ruled that these ridiculous intrusions on the citizens are legal only if there is an opportunity to avoid them.  That’s right, you can turn left, you can turn right, you can hang a U-turn and get the hell out of there, and the cops can’t follow you or use that as probable cause to stop you.  You can do this if you are drunk, if your drivers license has been suspended, if you are number 1 on the FBI most wanted list.

I don’t think they catch many drunk drivers this way.

Traffic is funnelled into one lane, and 5 or 6 cars at a time move forward to be greeted by a cop demanding to see your license.  I gave him mine, and he just held it–didn’t run the numbers, didn’t check for outstanding warrants, just held it.

He inquired where we had been, and I mentioned that I don’t have to report my whereabouts to the police.  He agreed that I was right.  Asking rude and impertinent questions, trying to bully people into giving up their civil rights, is just the day in and day out of police work.

Having wasted enough of my time and not having any more questions that were none of his business to ask, he handed me back my license and said good night.  We finished the drive home, feeling secure that the city of Lafayette had spent thousands of dollars in overtime for the 20 or so cops involved in this pretense of police work for no good purpose whatsoever.

I wonder if they arrest any drunks this way.  I wonder how much more effective it would be if all of those cops had been on patrol, doing their jobs instead of creating a massive traffic jam and wasting the time of innocent citizens.  I wonder why we put up with this crap.

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