Friday, November 30, 2007

Ohio Sheriff sells your Fourth Amendment rights for Cash

cops on the takeChristmas is coming, and office parties along with it. Be very careful in Ohio. You can buy anything there for the right sum, and the citizens of Summit County, Ohio have had their Fourth Amendment rights sold out from under them for a paltry $175,000. The Akron Beacon-Journal reports that Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander agrees that sobriety checkpoints violate the spirit of the Fourth Amendment but sold out to that state for grants of that amount. The cash is earmarked to fight drunk driving, and requires the use of sobriety checkpoints, your rights be damned.

Checkpoints are a scam. The sheriff himself considers them less effective than roving patrols. The Beacon-Journal cited Ohio statistics that show traditional patrols catch drunk drivers five times more effectively than roadblocks. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that 99.3 percent of drivers stopped at roadblocks were completely innocent and that it took 53 percent more manpower to effect an arrest at a roadblock than with roaming patrols.

Who, then, likes these checkpoints? Ohio State Government loves them for a few reasons. MADD loves them, for one thing, and they're a huge, self-perpetuating fund raising and media machine. Lawmakers love them because they're motherhood and apple pie, safe to champion without requiring any thought or actual work, and citizens never question their effectiveness. Most of all, the cops themselves love them. It's cushy busywork and so much easier than roving patrols. The grant money goes primarily to off-duty cops from dozens of Summit County agencies who are paid time-and-a-half for their voluntary overtime. Cops, Ohio lawmakers, and MADD don't mind selling your right to be protected from illegal, warrantless search and seizure as long as they make out on the deal. They also know that getting citizen sheep used to having their Fourth Amendment rights whittled away bit by bit for a putative good cause sets good precedent. You know-for farther down the road.