Every Tuesday...

The whole thing is a complete scam. That checkpoint is actually designated by law enforcement as "Project Stone Garden". Now you can't tell me that that's the best name for an immigration checkpoint. I-8 is not at the border, and never crosses any international border. They are only stopping cars on the way INTO Arizona, and not on the way out. If they ticket approximately 200 people a week for marijuana possession alone, that equates to roughly $400 per ticket for the county, or $80,000 per week in revenue (over $4 million dollars per year). Without the checkpoint, as someone said, Yuma County would dry up and blow away. And it turns out, the dog handlers now refuse to testify on videotape because they started to get caught in so many inaccuracies and discrepancies. Also, they don't keep records of the dogs' "false positive alerts" - where the dog allegedly tells its handler there are drugs in the car and it turns out there are no drugs. And when one handler was asked in court what the signal was that the dog gave when the dog smelled drugs (because nobody can tell when the dog signals), she told the court that the signal is different for each dog and that the alert signal is a "secret" between the dog and the handler. Now how can a DOG determine probable cause? You can't question a dog in court. It's like using a divining rod or something. It's the handler that's doing the profiling, not the dog. Out of state plates? Check. Crappy car? Check. Minority? Check. Mexican? Shoot 'Em. It's all so maddening. Even a local public defender got pulled over and searched after a dog "alerted" his car, and this guy is straight laced. Everyone but law enforcement readily admits that it's a ploy to get money from travelers, mainly from California/Oregon/Washington, who don't know the checkpoints are there. According to the author of this blog, the prosecutor rants about how Arizona won't recognize medical marijuana cards from those states I can't believe none of these cases have gone to higher courts on the basis of illegal searches.
— July 16, 2010 10:28 p.m.

Every Tuesday...

Also the location of these checkpoints makes no sense. If I were an "illegal immigrant", I'd be leaving Arizona as fast as possible, most likely through California - but they are searching cars on a road that not only does not cross the international border, but this particular checkpoint searches cars coming INTO Arizona. This is because people IN Arizona already know about the checkpoints. Recreational drug users in AZ leave their drugs at home when they drive through checkpoints. The checkpoints aren't stopping drug use. They have to catch unsuspecting people, people who assume they have constitutional rights, like out of towners coming into Arizona for tourism or job purposes, or those traveling through the state to get somewhere else. This is why the majority of cars pulled over are from out of state. This is why the prosecutor does his spiel about Oregon, Washington, and California. They WANT to catch medical marijuana users from these states. It's not at all about "illegal immigrants" at this checkpoint, it's all about small time recreational personal drug use, and nothing else (well, besides the money they get from these unsuspecting motorists). And if you listen carefully while you wait for them to search your car, you'll here the staff at these checkpoints bragging about wild parties, excessive drinking, their own marijuana use, unlawful driving, and all kinds of stuff that they are arresting or citing people at the checkpoint for. Somewhere I read a quote from a law enforcement officer trying to justify searching, citing, and arresting "grandmothers" for small amounts of marijuana. He basically said that ultimately the "grandmother's" marijuana comes from the drug cartels in Mexico, so grandmothers are contributing to drug violence. There are a few things wrong with this logic. No one buys Mexican marijuana - it call comes from BC and California. Also, if you want to put the drug cartels out of business, legalize marijuana and grow it in the U.S.. The drug cartels are no longer about small time marijuana use, and these checkpoints are rarely if ever impacting them.
— July 14, 2010 8:09 a.m.

Every Tuesday...

Besides the fact that this "recreational drug user" checkpoint is a ruse to financially support a town with no industry but law enforcement, both the writer and commenters miss the fact that the use of drug dogs themselves are a ruse. If every encounter between drug dog and vehicle were videotaped, it would become clear that it's not the dogs that decide which cars to stop, it's the dog handlers (usually National Guards). Training of both dogs and handlers is insufficient, and conditions at the checkpoints are not conducive to accuracy or reliability. These dogs don't have as much training as service dogs, and records of "false negatives" are not kept, or, if they are, are not publicized. The allegation that the "dog" smelled drugs is simply an excuse to search your vehicle, because without the "dog" telling them to search your car, the search would be unconstitutional. Now you can't question your accuser in court when that accuser is a dog, can you? It is my understanding that performance and records of dog handlers and dogs are so inaccurate that dog handlers no longer wish to appear as witnesses in depositions or court appearances that are videotaped, because they are caught in so many discrepancies and inaccuracies. Also, at least one dog handler, when asked in court what the "signal" or "alert" was that the dog exhibited when it found drugs in the car was, told the court that the "signal" was a secret, and different for each dog handler and dog, and was known only to the dog and the handler. The handlers are profiling cars with out of state plates, cars driven or occupied by minorities, and other types of cars they (not the dog) believe might contain drugs. If they had to prove that the dog actually signaled on each vehicle they pulled over (such as videotaped evidence) and hand over records showing the accuracy rates of both the dogs and handlers (how many times they searched cars that did not contain drugs), these ridiculous checkpoints would eventually be proven unconstitutional and seen for what they truly are - money making schemes disguised as "border protection", and supported by people who have no education in civil liberties.
— July 13, 2010 9:28 p.m.

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