Select Page

When Is Violating the Constitution by Pulling Over Motorists With No Legal Justification ‘Not a Bad Thing’?

This morning a Phoenix TV station aired a feel-good story about cops who are “rewarding people for good driving behavior” by pulling them over and giving them coupons for drinks at Circle K convenience stores. “If you see a Tempe police officer pulling you over,” chirped Colleen Sikora, a correspondent for the NBC affiliate KPNX, “it may not be a bad thing. If an officer sees someone following traffic laws correctly related to bicycles and pedestrians, they can pull you over, but instead of a citation, you’ll get a free drink coupon for either a cold drink or hot beverage…They’re kicking off the campaign this morning at 8 a.m., so if you see police lights in your rear view mirror, maybe hold off on the panic.”

For anyone who values the Fourth Amendment, which requires that police have reason to believe a driver has committed a crime or a traffic violation to justify forcibly detaining him, the program described by Sikora is definitely “a bad thing.” That sentiment is clearly shared by viewers who reacted to the story on Twitter. “This is an insanely bad & illegal idea,” one commented. “This is actually illegal,” observed another.

Seth Stoughton, a former police officer who is now a law professor at the University of South Carolina, elaborated: “This is absolutely unlawful. A traffic stop is a seizure, and must be supported by probable cause of a traffic infraction or reasonable suspicion of a crime. A traffic stop that lacks one of those legal justifications violates the Fourth Amendment.”

To its credit, the Tempe Police Department seems to (belatedly?) recognize that stopping motorists because they are not committing any traffic violations would be unconstitutional. According to the written version of the story on the KPNX website, bylined by Sikora herself, Tempe Det. Greg Bacon “said officers won’t be pulling over drivers, but officers will find opportunities to engage and educate citizens on traffic laws.”

Bacon explains the “Positive Ticketing Campaign” this way: “We will be having positive conversations with citizens. Say an officer happens to stop somewhere and see somebody, and says, ‘Hey, would you mind having a conversation with me?’ [to] educate them on bicycle laws and traffic laws.” KSAZ, the Fox station in Phoenix, likewise reports that “Tempe police report they will not be pulling anyone over to give them a free drink coupon.” In a tweet this afternoon, the Tempe Police Department reiterated that officers “will not be proactively stopping vehicles, bicycles, scooters or pedestrians.”

Given that police officers across the country have been less punctilious about following the Fourth Amendment when they perceive themselves as doing nice things for people, Sikora’s initial confusion may be understandable. But her insouciance in the face of blatant constitutional violations is harder to fathom.

[Thanks to Seth Mandel for the tip.]

This post has been republished with permission from a publicly-available RSS feed found on Reason. The views expressed by the original author(s) do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of The Libertarian Hub, its owners or administrators. Any images included in the original article belong to and are the sole responsibility of the original author/website. The Libertarian Hub makes no claims of ownership of any imported photos/images and shall not be held liable for any unintended copyright infringement. Submit a DCMA takedown request.

Read the original article.

About The Author

Jacob Sullum

Founded in 1968, Reason is the magazine of free minds and free markets. We produce hard-hitting independent journalism on civil liberties, politics, technology, culture, policy, and commerce. Reason exists outside of the left/right echo chamber. Our goal is to deliver fresh, unbiased information and insights to our readers, viewers, and listeners every day. Visit https://reason.com

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Welcome

Bringing together a variety of news and information from some of today’s most important libertarian thought leaders. All feeds are checked and refreshed every hour and pages auto-refresh every 15 minutes. External images are deleted after 30 days.

Time since last refresh: 0 second

Publish Your Own Article

Follow The Libertarian Hub

 

Support Our Work

Support the Libertarian Hub by tipping with Bitcoin!

Send BTC:
19PU2K7448gKxAvisR5cF6X5RquYfWu5vZ
Weekly Newsletter SignupTop 5 Stories of the Week

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a weekly email report of the top five most popular articles on the Libertarian Hub!