Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Roadblocks Should Be Brought Down in Georgia"

In response to State Court ruling that Bibb County roadblocks violate 4th Amendment rights, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights issued the following statement: This past Monday, the Georgia State Court ruled unconstitutional Bibb County roadblock practices, on the grounds that violates 4th amendment rights.

While roadblocks are defined by the Law Enforcement Operations Manual as to ‘serve legitimate law enforcement purposes’ in the ‘general interest in crime control’, their effects in immigrant communities all around the state are far different, and their impact far more detrimental than positive. In 2012, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Georgia law officers ranking 5th in the nation for removals of undocumented immigrant.

With a behavior spearheaded by the counties of Cobb, Gwinnett, Hall and Whitfield, Georgia police departments have created a deep distrust among immigrant communities. Roadblocks have become the notorious flagships of policies which, disguised under the cover of ‘general interest in crime control’, work relentlessly to remove undocumented residents of the state, without consideration of family dependency, years of residence, reasons for immigration, or whether they are a real threat for society or not, with the dreadful consequence of families being ripped apart.

Residents of Bibb County are not the only ones who have their rights violated by unnecessary police checkpoints.  In Warner Robins, Fairburn, Forest Park, Albany, Fitzgerald among other cities and counties across the State of Georgia, checkpoints are far from the initial objectives of fighting delinquency.  These checkpoints have less to do with public safety, and more with perpetuating racial profiling.  Our roads and our neighborhoods would be safer if we could trust the police instead of fear them. Practices such roadblocks do not make Georgia safer but create an environment of uncertainty and mistrust.

The Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights demands for the police departments across the state to stop this punitive practice, and to create alternative and solutions, such as the termination of the 287g and Secure Communities programs, to promote safety and fellowship instead of fear, reassurance instead punishment, and collaboration instead of racial profiling.

Adelina Nichols
Roberto Gutierrez

It is well settled that “roving patrols in which officers exercise unfettered discretion to stop drivers in the absence of some articulable suspicion” are unconstitutional but that standardized highway checkpoints or roadblocks that serve legitimate law enforcement objectives are permissible under certain circumstances.  Jacobs v. State, 308 Ga.App. 117 (706 S.E.2d 737) (2011).  

To justify a stop under this exception to the requirement that a law enforcement officer have an individualized suspicion of a crime before stopping a vehicle, the State must prove that a highway roadblock program was implemented at the programmatic level for a legitimate primary purpose, that is, that the roadblock was ordered by a supervisor rather than by officers in the field and was implemented to ensure roadway safety rather than as a constitutionally impermissible pretext aimed at discovering general evidence of ordinary crime.  

Elevating the roadblock decision from the officers in the field to the supervisory level limits the exercise of discretion by the officers in the field.  

In addition, the State must prove that all vehicles were stopped as opposed to random vehicle stops;  the delay to motorists was minimal;  the roadblock operation was well identified as a police checkpoint;  and the screening officer's training and experience was sufficient to qualify him or her to make an initial determination as to which motorists should be given field tests for intoxication.

December 07, 2011


No comments:

Post a Comment