Welcome to New Hampshire… the
Live Free or Die Police State.
Welcome! You’re guilty!
Now, I’m all for gettin’ the bad guys, so don’t get me wrong as you read this post. What I’m NOT for is an ever expanding POLICE State, with growing powers of law enforcement creating an inverse shrinking of our freedom. Lately here in the Granite State, this appears to be exactly what’s happening.
First, we’ve got these paramilitary police groups called "special operations units" that have sprung up all around. These quasi-public law enforcement units, lacking the usual oversight by elected officials have, in the name of "homeland security" grown into organizations that appear to be mini-armies, complete with vehicles that resemble battle tanks. While I’m all for getting to and stopping terrorists, the fact is, there haven’t been that many here in NH, so these mini-"militias" have turned inward against the population. After all, an "army" that is fully trained for action cannot long stand still without "chafing at the bit" for something to do. It’s when they don those ski masks and head out into the night that trouble starts…
What I’m talking about, of course, is the raid on the family in Bristol by the Central NH Special Operations Unit during which innocent family members were held handcuffed in their own home for an hour and a half. Click here to read the full story of how 23 (!) "police officers" (twenty wearing masks hiding their identities) smashed down the door to the apartment in order to execute an arrest warrant for a seventeen year old family member.
And of course there’s the other botched raid in Charlestown NH by another of these so-called "special operations units" where one state trooper was shot, and a man wound up dead. While the AG called the killing "justified" (aren’t they all?), there are many questions swirling around, and even the NH State Police are questioning whether there are inherent built-in problems with these "non-profit" regional agencies that seemingly answer to nobody.
And then there’s another relatively new phenomena here in the "Live Free or Die" state: the so-called "sobriety checkpoint." The lunchroom discussion at work lately has included this topic, as there have been many in these parts– we read the "heads-up" printed in the papers… and the "results" reported after the fact. What we have found interesting in our daily chats on the subject is the fact that the "checkpoints" seem to net relatively few DWIs (which, don’t get me wrong, I want drunks OFF the roads) while yielding a number of other charges for other offenses. One news report about an area checkpoint reported that, in addition to a number of alcohol and drug arrests, drivers were charged with
operating without a valid license, child restraints, and unregistered vehicle violations as well as 11 warnings for equipment violations.
Sounds like a general sweep to me. Live Free or Die? Not hardly. And the problem is that, while some of the law enforcement persons operating these checkpoints act in a polite, efficient manner that seeks to inconvenience the innocent motorist as little as possible, others, not so. And in some instances, citizens of the "Live Free or Die State" are considered guilty of something, without cause, and must suffer the temporary loss of time and freedom, in the "hope" that, while held at the roadblock, a la Nazi style, they can somehow prove themselves innocent.
Show me zee paperz. Vat ess een your vagon? Shnell!
So it was for a ‘Grok reader that was run though the gauntlet at a checkpoint conducted by the Auburn, NH police department this past Friday evening on Route 28. What follows is the account of what happened to a 19 year old girl and her 21 year old boyfriend after they left a pleasant evening at Canobie Lake Park and headed home. "Free"? You be the judge. Innocent until proven guilty? No way.. it’s just the opposite. Here’s their story:
Sobriety Holdup- Just because they can.
A little before 11P.M. on Friday night of Labor Day weekend I (a 19 year old college student) was stopped at a Sobriety Checkpoint with a 21 year old passenger in the vehicle. The officer approached my car and informed me that this was a sobriety checkpoint and that they were looking for people who have been drinking and driving. She proceeded to ask me if I had been drinking that night. I responded saying that I had not been drinking and that I was just driving home from Canobie Lake Park on 28 because there was a lot of traffic on I-93. She then asked if the passenger had anything to drink, and he also answered no. She then asked us to pull over to the side of the road and asked me and the passenger to both step out of the vehicle, sending me to the back of the car and the passenger to the front.
She then followed me to the back of the car to “talk to me for a minute.” She took out a pen and asked me to touch the tip of it, and then follow it back and forth and up and down with my eyes and I did. Being taken-aback by the situation, I was a little nervous and slightly shaky, which she promptly picked up on and said “You seem a little nervous. Why’s that? What have you been doing tonight?” Again, I told her that I had been at Canobie Lake Park and was just driving home. The officer then asked me if she could search the car. Having nothing to hide, I gave her permission.
Meanwhile it has been about 10 minutes that my car has been running on the side of the road. I asked the other officer who was right next to me keeping an eye on me to tell her to shut off the ignition while she was sitting in my car looking though my belongings. He told me that the car was fine and that this would be done in just a minute. After looking through my entire vehicle and possessions, she asked for my Identification and then went to get the passenger’s identification as well. When she asked for the passenger’s I.D. she also made him empty his pockets. She took our licenses and walked to one of the six Auburn Police Vehicles and was gone for a few minutes.
A different Officer returned with a flashlight and once again made me follow a pen back and forth and up and down. He then walked to the passenger and did the same. When the passenger moved some dirt with his shoe, the officer was right there to ask “What’s that you’re hiding?” He responded “nothing. I’m just standing here waiting.” When he ran his hand across his stomach, the light was flashed at him again and the officer asked “What? You have something you need to wipe off your shirt?” The passenger responded, “no I just touched my stomach.”
As the time continued to pass, I became more disgusted with myself for agreeing to let them search my car without questioning their reason for doing so. I then decided to ask the officer at the rear of the vehicle if the ignition could be turned off. He said “It would go a lot faster if you tell me what it is and where it is.” To that, I responded in an irritated manner, “I will help you rip this car apart. There are compartments under here in the back and on the sides, I can unfold the seats. There is nothing in this car.” He continued to stand there and do his job. The woman returned and looked through the car one last time with the third officer who had just finished checking the sobriety of the 21 year old passenger. After being help up on the side of the road late at night for about 25 minutes, our licenses were returned and we were told that we could leave, as one Officer said to the passenger, “Sorry for the inconvenience.”
Unfortunately, it seems like we were targeted because of our age and treated as though we were guilty until proven innocent. We were not treated with the same respect that we showed the officers. This experience has changed our views of how Police Officers treat those whom they are supposed to be serving and protecting in our state community.
-Driver and Passenger
Welcome to the real world guys. One thing I also learned in doing my research for this (and future) post is that for some reason, the police never use video tapes to record these activities, yet they do so (and have the equipment) for others. I wonder why that is? I can tell you that these two young persons are VERY down on the cops now that this has happened. Both are known to me, and I can attest that both are well-behaved, law abiding citizens.
There are many points worth exploring in the above narrative. Why was the passenger– of LEGAL AGE and NOT driving– made to submit to a field sobriety test? (Which he passed, as he had consumed NO alcohol) Why were they detained for so long? In this age of global warming, why was the vehicle left to idle at the side of the road for twenty-five minutes?
The male passenger has agreed to come onto our radio program, Meet the New Press, this Saturday to discuss this event. It is a very chilling story, to say the least…