Police in the northeast Ohio town of Mayfield Heights have recently begun putting up “fake” drug checkpoints as a tactic in the city’s war on drugs. Motorists see the signs and police wait for drivers to act suspiciously before taking further action.
Police are not allowed to use checkpoints to search motorists and their vehicles for drugs. So, in Mayfield Heights, officers are trying the next-best thing — fake drug checkpoints.
Police gathered in the express lanes of Interstate 271 on Monday after placing signs along the freeway warning motorists that a drug checkpoint lay ahead.
There was no checkpoint, only police waiting for motorists to react suspiciously after seeing the signs. A Mayfield Heights assistant prosecutor says it’s a lawful and legitimate tactic in his city’s war on drugs.
“We should be applauded for doing this,” Dominic Vitantonio said. “It’s a good thing.”
Civil libertarians and one of the people who was stopped and searched are skeptical. They wonder if officers were profiling motorists and whether anyone’s Fourth Amendment right against unlawful searches and seizures was violated.
Nick Worner, a spokesman for the Cleveland office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said his office will examine the circumstances surrounding the fake checkpoint.
“We’re going to be gathering information,” Worner said. “That information will determine what we think is going on.”
Thorn earned a B.A. in American History from the University of Pittsburgh and a M.A. from Duquesne University. He has spent the last twenty years researching mysticism and the occult in colonial American history.