FROM MOUNTAIN MEDIA
Last month we had another one.
In the latest case, an Ohio Highway Patrolwoman decided to "pat down" a citizen before offering him a "courtesy ride." Sure enough, the up-till-then harmless citizen pulled his gun and shot the officer, who is now hospitalized but expected to recover fully. The subject being searched also got shot -- my police correspondents don't bother to mention how he fared.
Opening the correspondence with some police officers on the Internet, friend B.K. of Tennessee asked:
"How come the trooper felt free to give a body search to someone neither charged nor arrested, just as a condition for riding in the taxpayers' paid police car? Is the courtesy ride now considered by a law enforcement officer as a tacit agreement to waive one's constitutional rights against an warrantless search? ..."
Officer B.W., of Dayton Ohio, replied:
"It is strictly a safety issue that is taught in many academies. A safety 'pat-down' for weapons has been determined as 'legal' by the courts for the protection of the officer.
"I think you might be hung up on the word 'search.' A safety 'pat-down' for weapons is NOT a search and has been determined so by the courts. When it goes beyond a check of the outer clothing then you are crossing the line of legality.
Another officer, signing himself only "Roger," was less conciliatory:
"Obviously you don't have a clue as to what you are talking about. First, what the trooper did does not constitute a search. It is called a 'patdown' and its sole purpose is to protect the officer. This 'frisk' is only an attempt to ascertain that the person the officer is in contact with is unarmed and does not pose a threat. There is no search involved unless the officer detects something that could potentially be an offensive weapon. ...
"In this particular incident this tactic saved a LEO's life. You honestly cannot believe that this frisk constitutes anything more than a minor inconvenience for the citizen involved. In this case the citizen turned out to be a wannabe cop killer, and the minor inconvenience saved the Ohio trooper's life. ..."
B.K. asked for my thoughts:
# # #
This recurring recourse to the legal myth that "a pat-down is not a search" is probably the most frightening part of these responses.
When we try to "find" something, yet contend we are not "searching" for it, we are happily swallowing convenient, lawyerly lies merely because they make us feel better.
This leads immediately to "You honestly cannot believe that this frisk constitutes anything more than a minor inconvenience for the citizen involved." I'm sure it's an equally "minor inconvenience" to show our travel authorization papers, to prove any sum over $1,000 is not drug money, and to show any cop my "racial identity card" upon demand. Hitler's police state (like our own) was, at heart, nothing but an assemblage of minor inconveniences ... so long as you were "law-abiding." Any German police officer would have told you so.
Also note the notion that anyone who gets patted down, and subsequently draws his weapon, must have been "a wannabe cop killer."
Probably not. After all, they had the gun earlier, and killed no cops. More likely, they only panic, draw, and fire when they realize they are about to be arrested and jailed -- and have their weapon confiscated -- under laws which VIOLATE THE SECOND AMENDMENT.
If they knew the officer would merely say, "Oh, I see you're armed. Now be sure and handle that weapon safely sir," no crisis would ensue.
What if the officer, using his or her judgment, decides to offer a ride to a citizen who, just before getting in the car, volunteers "By the way, I have a loaded Thompson gun here in my backpack. But don't worry, I have a license." Does the officer now decline to offer the ride?
B.K. shared my response with the officers. Where I had pointed out that -- along with the "frisk" -- it would be "an equally 'minor inconvenience' to show our travel authorization papers, to prove any sum over $1,000 is not drug money, and to show any cop my 'racial identity card' upon demand," one officer contended:
"At this point we have completely separated from reality. I can't remember forcing anyone to go through any of these motions. And I guess I better get in line for my racial identity card. Anyone know where I can get one?"
Yes, I do.
As I've written before, if you are a member of a legally recognized peyote church, you can now legally transport your religious sacrament home from the point of purchase only if you are in possession of an official government form, listing not only your BIA registration number, but also your "percentage of (Indian) blood," which must be 25 percent or higher. Police in many states can and will arrest legitimate church members, even clergy, who are caught without -- or cannot qualify for -- this racial identity card.
The number of cases where cops seize sums over $1,000 in cash -- especially from minority members -- and tell them, "If you want it back, you have to go to court and prove it's not drug money," has become so huge that demanding further documentation is absurd. In 80 percent of such cases, no criminal charges are ever filed. "60 Minutes" recently did a segment on a county in Florida where the deputies were doing this on a massive scale along Interstate 95.
If I wish to travel to Knob Creek, Kentucky for the annual shoot-off with my LEGALLY-OWNED machine gun, I must write in advance to acquire from the BATF a "travel authorization permit" to "transfer" that weapon with me.
The officer "can't remember forcing anyone" to show a "travel authorization document"? In this country, we call them "driver's licenses," a document which (with the aid of the officer's radio and computer) can be used to access parts of your medical records, to learn whether or not you own registered firearms, owe child support, etc.
This is MORE information than was contained in the "internal passports" which were required in Hitler's Germany.
# # #
"The whole situation could have been avoided by his securing a Concealed Carry Permit," the officers say of the latest incident in which a citizen panicked upon being suddenly frisked; drew and fired.
Oh good, another government "travel paper."
One third of all young black American men have been guests of our legal system, thanks largely to the harmless intoxicants favored in their communities. None of these folks -- who need self-defense weapons more than most of us -- can acquire a "concealed carry permit." Most of the rest are rightly skeptical about submitting to fingerprinting.
Just as, in Nazi Germany, it was a minimal bother to carry your National Socialist ID card, or some other documentation that you were not a Jew, so all these new forms are merely a "minor inconvenience" for the ever shrinking number still dubbed "law-abiding" ... and all justified "for the sake of officer safety."
Providing the obliging Supreme Court OKd it, is there ANYTHING these guys wouldn't do "for the sake of officer safety"? House-to-house weapons confiscations?
I asked hypothetically whether these officers would allow a citizen who volunteers he has a loaded Thompson gun in his backpack, to ride in their cars.
"The officer should take custody of the weapon for the duration of the courtesy ride," one responded.
Shall we now go back and re-read the Bill of Rights? Has a phrase been added to the Second Amendment, stating "... except that government officers may 'take custody' of the arms of the people whenever they judge it wise 'for the safety of the officer'?"
In order to better impress on these "officers" the original intent of the Constitution -- the proper relationship between a powerful people with their innumerable rights, and their puny government with its tiny number of limited, defined powers -- each state legislature should promptly change the law so that, any time a civilian who is not formally under arrest rides with an officer in a public vehicle, the officer must unload HIS weapons and turn them over for safekeeping to his employer, the taxpayer, until they reach their destination.
# # #
Again and again, we find our "officers" pulling over young men with no real "probable cause," and deliberately escalating the situation till they can charge "resisting arrest" (at the very least), in their relentless pursuit of the illegal drug or firearm which will allow them to seize the vehicle and cash to supplement the departmental budget.
Listen up: Drug possession is protected by the Ninth Amendment. Alcohol could not be outlawed until a constitutional amendment was passed in 1919. When did they pass the constitutional amendment that overrules the Ninth Amendment's "retained right" to medical liberty concerning marijuana, opium, and cocaine?
Frisking citizens for guns, or requiring them to obtain a "Concealed Carry Permit," is forbidden by the Second Amendment -- part of the Constitution which every officer takes an oath to protect and defend. (No, they do not take an oath to "enforce every law." Every state code has hundreds of statutes mercifully unenforced -- just look up "cohabitation.")
Property seizure without a warrant or due process is banned by the Fifth and 14th Amendments, while the Fourth Amendment outlaws the warrantless search in the first place.
Men sworn to "defend the Constitution," who sarcastically ridicule the Constitution's tenets and straightforward restrictions on government action at every opportunity, parroting hair-splitting Jesuitical nonsense about a "pat-down not being a search," put this nation at risk for its very soul.
Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Readers may contact him via e-mail at email@example.com. The web site for the Suprynowicz column is at http://www.nguworld.com/vindex/.
Vin Suprynowicz, firstname.lastname@example.org
"A well-regulated population being necessary to the security of a police state, the right of the Government to keep and destroy arms shall not be infringed." (S. Thompson, M.D.)
all suspicious persons for weapons.
15 Nov 94.
Police say the program is working, but Mayor John DeStefano has decided that a little more suspicion could reduce the homicide rate. He has ordered police to physically search suspicious people on the streets for guns and drugs.
The new ``pat-down'' policy -- for which officers don't need a warrant -- follows seven killings in the last three weeks. There have been 28 murders in the city so far this year; last year there were 21.
``The common thread is use of guns by younger people. We decided to try something to stem the number of guns on the streets,'' said DeStefano, who announced the new policy Oct. 25.
The mayor's office attributes 30 drug-related arrests and the seizure of two guns, including an Uzi-style machine pistol, to the reinforced searches.
But some residents say the searches are discriminatory because they target young black men and teen-agers who live in certain neighborhoods.
``How do you determine who is doing something wrong and who isn't?'' asked David Richson, 37, who was standing outside a liquor store in the high-crime Hill section of the city.
``I may have a buck knife in my pocket, and what's going to happen if they search me? I'm going downtown and for no reason. They're doing it on appearance,'' said Richson, who is black.
Others in this city of nearly 128,000 are grasping for any solution to the frightening violence that plagues their lives.
``No idea is a bad idea. We need all the help we can get,'' said Christina Dempsey. She favors pat-downs because guns are common in her neighborhood and she is afraid to let her 8-year-old granddaughter out of the house.
``Innocent people have nothing to fear,'' said Dempsey, who is black. ``The police know who they want and why they want them. I live on a drug street, and I'm afraid.''
Since Police Chief Nicholas Pastore took office in 1990, the department has used community policing in an effort to build trust and halt crime through a combination of social service referrals and low-key, non-confrontational tactics.
Pastore said police are not targeting specific neighborhoods or minorities with the new policy, and that his officers know he wouldn't stand for abuses of power.
``The philosophy of community policing will prevent that kind of thing from happening because we're going to bend over backwards to see that it doesn't happen,'' he said.
DeStefano said to significantly reduce crime, the pat-down policy must be supplemented by more education, job and drug programs and other forms of intervention.
``What this is about,'' he said, ``is trying to maintain order and safety in neighborhoods and at the same time try to deal with longer term solutions.''
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