Search Everyone

The widest net


When police officers in Sarasota, Florida, were having trouble tracking down drug dealers at the Mediterranean Apartments, they came up with an idea that cops across the country are probably kicking themselves for not having thought of first: just search everyone.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported in February that the Mediterranean, a private apartment complex, was known to house drug dealers, but authorities were having a difficult time proving it. When a dead body showed up in the apartments in July, police faced increasing public pressure to clean the place up. Remarkably, they were able to obtain a warrant allowing them to search anyone who set foot in the complex. Warrant in hand, a dozen cops and the city SWAT team descended on the property, stopping and searching everyone in sight.

Despite police assurances that "no innocent people" lived in or frequented the complex, of the dozen people stopped during the raid, only four were charged with a drug crime. The warrant was almost certainly a violation of the Fourth Amendment, and an attorney for one of the four who were arrested has vowed to appeal.