Now Playing in Memphis: Martial Law Lite!

Last week, federal, state, and local police in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas conducted a massive sweep dubbed "Operation Sudden Impact."

The operation included raids of businesses, homes, and boats; traffic roadblocks; and personal searches. They say they were looking for "terrorists." If they found any, they haven't announced it yet. They did arrest 332 people, 142 of whom they describe as "fugitives." They also issued about 1,300 traffic tickets, and according to one media account, seized "hundreds" of dollars.

From the Memphis Commercial Appeal:

While the operation was billed as a regional "anti-terrorism initiative," the scope was also broad -- everything from the serving of fugitive warrants to spot checks of boats on the Mississippi River to ensuring drivers in Tipton County had their children properly fastened into child safety seats.

"Not all of this initiative is to arrest people," said Deputy Chief Donna Turner of the Tipton County Sheriff's Department.

Many agencies put an emphasis on traffic stops. A little after 8 p.m. Saturday in Hickory Hill, Sgt. Chris Harris of the Shelby County Sheriff's Office street crimes unit stopped a white SUV that was booming with music. The driver was driving on a suspended license -- he received a citation -- and there was marijuana residue in the car, but "not enough to weigh out," Harris said.

Still, every traffic stop holds the potential of netting much more than expected.

Nashville's News Channel 5 reports agents seizing equipment from local businesses:

The FBI along with hundreds of officers said they are looking for anything out of the ordinary. Agents take computers and paperwork from businesses.

One store owner said he was told the agents were looking for stolen electronics. While some business owners feel they are being targeted, law-enforcement officers said they are just trying to track down possible terrorists before something big happens.

"What we have found traditionally is that terrorists are involved in a number of lesser known type crimes," said Mark Luttrell, Shelby County sheriff.

What's really unfortunate is the complete lack of inquisitiveness in the local media. How many of these raids were backed by search warrants? What justification did police give for the traffic roadblocks and traffic stops? Random stops and roadblocks are only legal under limited circumstances. Fishing expeditions aren't one of them, though fishing expeditions disguised as DWI checkpoints usually are.

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  • TallDave||

    Argh.

    I'm the first person to defend a reasonable terrorism-related search, but this is fucking ridiculous.

  • Bingo||

    Hah, that'll show those Islamofascists! You'll never impose your authoritarian sharia law on our freedom loving populace! USA USA USA

  • ||

    GWB is an authoritarian asshole that believes freedom is not as imoprtant as security. Left unopposed, this administration would deny everybodym their civil rights to protect us from terrorism.

  • shecky||

    Massive hunt for terrorists. In TN, MS, and AR.

    They've gotta be kidding.

  • Episiarch||

    What a full-blown load of shit. Terrorists my ass. More like "let's hit everybody we've been itching to toss but haven't had enough for a warrant yet".

  • ||

    "What we have found traditionally is that terrorists are involved in a number of lesser known type crimes," said Mark Luttrell, Shelby County sheriff.

    Really? This guy talks like Shelby County is dealing with terrorists on a daily basis, which I highly doubt.

  • Fourth Amendment||

    Obviously this is outrageous. Any ideas how one might assert his rights in way that won't result in a body cavity search, or worse?

    J, I doubt things will change much when W goes back to Crawford. The War on Terr will last at least as long as the War on Drugs. Also, every state has its share of hicks, not just NC.

  • Bingo||

    Seriously, why are we conducting random searches for terrorists 7 years after the WTC attacks? The fucking terrorists have won.

  • Invisible Finger||

    "What we have found traditionally is that terrorists are involved in a number of lesser known type crimes," said Mark Luttrell, Shelby County sheriff.

    What The Fuck??

    This douchebag sheriff has never had any dealings with a terrorist to ever have traditionally "found" anything about what terrorists do.

  • ||

    On the bright side,
    The terrorists will no longer "hate us for our freedom". We no longer have enough of those inconvenient (to LEOs) things to worry about.

  • ||

    Last month, the Shelby County Sheriff's Dept. saw one of its deputies accused of murder.

    Jackass is treating his deputies so poorly, they're trying to
    unionize.

    The fact that man immediately seeks out "terrists" leads me to believe, his ass is on the line and he's desperate.

    Would like to hear from any other Memphysians around there, but I am sorta glad to note that the Tenn. Book Festival will be Nashville-only going forward.

  • ||

    Like wasn't quite closed above, here's the part for the Teamsters.

    /Hangs head in HTML shame.

  • ||

    "What we have found traditionally is that terrorists are involved in a number of lesser known type crimes," said Mark Luttrell, Shelby County sheriff.

    What The Fuck??

    This douchebag sheriff has never had any dealings with a terrorist to ever have traditionally "found" anything about what terrorists do.


    Not true.

    Little known fact: Mohammed Atta was a habitual jaywalker.

  • J||

    I'm sure that county is rolling in terrorism experience.

  • Guy Montag||

    Not trying to be picky, but:

    Last week, federal, state, and local police in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas conductive a massive sweep dubbed "Operation Sudden Impact."

    Might wanna change that to conduced before the grammer Nazis swoop in.

  • ed||

    Better yet, "conducted."

  • ||

    Legalize Freedom!

  • EJM||

    Memphis' News Channel 5 reports agents seizing equipment from local businesses:

    Just to clear up any potential confusion, that story is from Nashville's Channel 5 (WTVF), not Memphis's Channel 5 (WMC-TV).

  • BakedPenguin||

    before the grammer Nazis swoop in.



    Swoop in? Are they gay grammar Nazis? Casey Serin?

  • BakedPenguin||

    This douchebag sheriff has never had any dealings with a terrorist to ever have traditionally "found" anything about what terrorists do.



    Sure he has - if by terrorist you mean "black person" and by dealings you mean "harass".

  • Guy Montag||

    Dang, I really did misspell "conducted" by accident, but used the same incorrect spelling of "grammar" that I have used for decades.

    Anyway, Mr. Balko got it fixed.

    Swoop in? Are they gay grammar Nazis? Casey Serin?

    Not sure if they are the Brownshirt variety or not BP. They do seem to be everyplace.

  • Matt Moore||

    Still, every traffic stop holds the potential of netting much more than expected.

    Then let's just stop EVERYBODY! Imagine all the drugs we'll seize and "unbuckled children" tickets we can write!

  • ||

    if terrorists decided to blow up Memphis how would we be able to tell?

  • ||

    Dang, I really did misspell "conducted" by accident, but used the same incorrect spelling of "grammar" that I have used for decades.

    I thought it was just ironic humor; and damn good at that. Then you had to ruin it for me.

  • h-dawg||

    bingo wins the thread out of the box

  • Dave W.||

    That DUI blog is cool. To me even more interesting than the entry you linked was this one on the right to a blood test that some states have:

    http://www.duiblog.com/2005/05/10/denial-of-independent-blood-test/

    Frankly I have never been able to believe how many sober people are willing to trust roadside breathalyzers.

    Story time: One night I convinced a friend to act as my designated driven when we went out. I drank.. He did not. On the way home, my friend got pulled over for a made up reason. The police officer advised my friend the driver that he could have a roadside breathalyzer or take the test at the station. Because of the made up reason for the stop, my friend did not trust the officer and opted to go to the police station.

    The officer "kindly" offerred to let me drive the car away, but since I had been drinking (and I am sure the officer knew it), I firmly but politely declined.

    So, I was stranded out a mile or two from any public phone in the middle of the night while my friend went to the station (in handcuffs) and blew a 0.0 on their machine. In the first decent move of the night, the police did drive my friend back to the car. We managed to connect back up a couple hours after the initial stop and he drove me home.

  • ||

    Oops, guy, I think you just got a double joe'z Law violation for this:

    Might wanna change that to conduced before the grammer Nazis swoop in.

    So, I was stranded out a mile or two from any public phone in the middle of the night while my friend went to the station (in handcuffs) and blew a 0.0 on their machine.

    Why was he cuffed?

  • bill||

    "....and then they came for you and there was no one left to protest".

  • ||

    How many of these raids were backed by search warrants?

    I am willing to bet that this question will be more than irrelevant once the Supreme Court deems these searches "constitutional", along with every other piece of freedom-limiting law they can think of nowadays.

  • B||

    Holy shit!!! They served fugitive warrants and pulled people over for traffic violations. It's a virtual police state in Memphis. The thought of fugitives being arrested makes my fucking blood boil. How dare they enforce the law down there?

  • Dave W.||

    Why was he cuffed?

    No idea really. Neither of us complained about the bogus stop and my friend didn't explicitly say that he did not trust this officer to calibrate / read a breathalyzer. The tone from both of us was cordial and compliant (because we were thinking he would just come to his senses and let us go).

  • ||

    Why was he cuffed?

    If I recall correctly, the law is that if you refuse a brethalyzer, you're commiting a crime. Refusal is enough to get hauled away.

  • Dave W.||

    If I recall correctly, the law is that if you refuse a brethalyzer, you're commiting a crime. Refusal is enough to get hauled away.

    The officer gave him a choice, for whatever reason. There was no "refusal" (at least as that term is reasonably understood).

    If the officer had not given a choice, then I believe my friend would have taken the roadside test despite misgivings.

  • Dave W.||

    If the officer had not given a choice, then I believe my friend would have taken the roadside test despite misgivings.

    which is why that "DUI BLOG" entry I linked above was so interesting. The question has often occurred to me over the years:

    what if that LEO had been screwing around with his roadside breathalyzer and had still forced my friend to take the roadside test? What would my friend's options have been after the false positive was written into a report by the roadside LEO (understanding that he truly was 0.00)?

    These questions have always bothered me.

  • Mr. Obvious||

    The blue shirted idiots are now just looking for reasons to stay employed.

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