‘Checkpoints accomplish nothing’

To the Editor:

For our Ridgecrest driving population, especially the more than 1,000 drivers who went through our DUI checkpoints since October, you may be interested in the following information about them:

Total drivers impeded in their right to travel = more than 1,000

Total cost to you, the taxpayer = $25,000

Total DUI arrests = 0

In spite of claims about DUI checkpoint effectiveness by both the California Office of Traffic Safety and the Ridgecrest Police Department, you can see that they had exactly zero effect on DUI drivers, none. While almost 1,000 drivers were stopped for no better reason than that they were driving that night, these checkpoints have the detrimental effect of acclimating drivers to being stopped for no reason. This is a serious problem, one that should not be occurring.

These checkpoints in town are serving a few purposes, however. One is to net our officers some additional overtime pay. Another is to buy equipment to supply the needs of these ineffective checkpoints.

The worst effect of these checkpoints is the one that needs the most attention. They are causing many citizens to begin to accept the practice of being stopped for any and every reason. This should not be so in our town.

We should demand definitive beneficial results if we are going to subject people to this. These checkpoints do not do so. They are known of in advance by all the bar owners in town, and their patrons are notified of the locations so as to avoid them.

Other people who are innocent of any crime do not have this advantage, so they are stopped and checked for no reason at all, without any probable cause whatsoever.

The privilege of being stopped for no good reason is funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety, which justifies this by claiming a 20-percent effectiveness. This office chooses to ignore the fact that data it uses to make this claim was taken from a New Zealand study, while the U.S. studies showed only about 8-percent effectiveness.

In Ridgecrest, remember again, it is 0 percent.

These checkpoints will go on and on, however, due to our city council’s unwillingness to recognize the problem with stopping drivers in their right to travel for no reason. Their greed for the grant money supplied for these checkpoints, coupled with their total lack of appreciation for freedom for their constituents guarantees that they will never deny the Police Department’s yearly requests to continue them.

The only avenue left to us is to keep watch for the checkpoints when they occur and avoid them. This is a very poor substitute for enjoying freedom from policing actions that accomplish nothing outside lining pockets.

Sorry, Ridgecrest citizens, no freedom for you on this one.

Mike Neel

Story First Published: 2013-06-26