Cops Manufacturing "Probable Cause" | Narcotics Checkpoint U-Turn





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Published on Jul 6, 2012

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This clip was part of an episode of "Undercover Stings" on SpikeTV. The episode, entitled "Gun Runners," has been mysteriously removed from iTunes, Amazon and SpikeTV's own website.

Officers from the Bradford County Sheriff's Office set up a "sting" using a fake narcotics checkpoints. With the phony checkpoints in place, other officers observe from a distance to see which cars pull a u-turn, stating the maneuver provides them with probable cause to perform a traffic stop.

Aside from the fact that narcotics checkpoints are unconstitutional--more on that below--a driver having pulled a u-turn does NOT provide sufficient probable cause that drugs are contained in the vehicle. Rather, it is quite possible that the driver forgot something, or got called back to the office, or didn't want to wait in line, or is deathly afraid of large dogs used to detect narcotics, or any number of other possibilities. Presumably, the officers know as much because they still ask the drivers for consent to search their vehicles.

As mentioned above, narcotics checkpoints are illegal; The Supreme Court has ruled that narcotics checkpoints violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments [see Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 US 32 (2000)]. Unlike DUI checkpoints that protect against an imminent threat threat to public welfare--i.e., drunk drivers--narcotics checkpoints serve only general law enforcement purposes and thus do not justify the warrantless intrusion.

On one hand, it is wonderful that these police officers are trying to keep drugs off the streets. On the other hand, acting outside of settled Constitutional law demands that the evidence obtained from these illegal stops should be suppressed.

It is not clear whether SpikeTV pulled this episode once the illegality of the officers' actions was realized. In any case, this footage has been uploaded for purposes of education pursuant to the Fair Use Doctrine exception to copyright law. All rights to the content is exclusively that of its creators and owners, including SpikeTV.


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