As long as there are criminals, there will be a need for police. That’s obvious. The problem starts when police stop acting in the public good and start using their badges to abuse people. It’s bound to happen since no group is perfect and pure. But it’s particularly dangerous when members of a group that is authorized by the state to use deadly force against the people go off the rails.
This problem leads to the debate over just how much power the police should possess. One department in Florida just opened the door for its officers to trample the Fourth Amendment underfoot.
In an unprecedented violation of the right of citizens to be free from unlawful search and seizure, the Crestview Police Department in Florida has announced a most insidious program. Driving safely is now a reason for cops to pull you over—under the guise that you’ll be “offered free pizza.”
“A free Papa Murphy’s “FAVES” pizza awaits Crestview motorists who drive safely and courteously and get caught in the act,” reads the announcement on the department’s Facebook page.
“Under this program, Crestview Police officers may initiate a traffic stop based upon observed safe operation of a motor vehicle,” Community Services Officer Sam Kimmons said.
This almost sounds like some sort of a joke. But it isn’t. And Papa Murphy’s must be desperate for sales and/or complete misguided to participate in such a program.
While the Free Thought Project has reported on programs where cops randomly pull people over to give them free stuff, this program crosses a line others did not by conducting an actual traffic stop.
“We’re going to reward you for good driving,” Police Chief Tony Taylor said. “It’s as simple as that.”
But it is not “as simple as that.” Pulling people over for driving safely is a direct violation of the 4th Amendment. And this department is not just giving people pizza, they are conducting actual traffic stops.
This is crazy. On the possibility of getting a free pizza, people cash in their Fourth Amendment rights. And if you don’t measure up to the officer’s standards, no pizza coupon for you. But the search of your vehicle continues.
Only if the illegal stop, illegal detention, relinquishing of rights, and citizen submission all work out in your favor, then, and only then, will you get some coupon for a pizza. But, if they find one thing wrong, their illegal traffic stop just found a way to circumvent the 4th amendment.
We need to go back to the reasons the police have the right to pull you over in the first place.
In order for police to initiate a traffic stop, an officer must have reasonable suspicion that articulable facts indicate there is a crime being committed or about to be committed.
Safe driving is not reasonable suspicion and offering pizza coupons does not change this fact.
Facebook users are commenting on the plan, and it is being excoriated. What an encouragement. Some people can recognize abuses of their rights are willing to speak up.
Luckily, however, people on Facebook are seeing right through it. There are hundreds of comments on the post and only a handful of people who actually support the program.
In one exchange on the post, the typical police apologist reaction of “if you don’t do anything illegal, you have nothing to worry about,” was presented and that person received the most epic reply pointing out that it is the police who are breaking the law.
With this sort of procedure, if you are not doing anything illegal, you still do have something to worry about — the precious freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution.
And some people are willing to trade those away for a free pizza? Such individuals do not deserve to live in a free state.
Source: Free Thought Project
Image: Police Chief Tony R. Taylor