J.D. Tuccille Discusses DUI Checkpoints on HuffPost Live


I've written before about college student Chris Kalbaugh's video-recorded encounter with Rutherford County, Tennessee, sheriff's deputies at a DUI checkpoint. During his intitial contact with Deputy A.J. Ross at this odd court-approved carve-out from the Fourth Amendment, Kalbaugh's polite assertion of his rights — and unwillingness to simply knuckle under — was interpreted as grounds for reasonable suspicion allowing the deputies to prolong the encounter and, quite literally, call in the dogs.

As I discuss on HuffPost Live, Kalbaugh was correct in his assertion of his rights. But doing so will often make an annoying meeting with the police turn into an extended interview. That's especially true if they call in drug-sniffing dogs who almost always give the police the excuse they need for a full search.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't assert your rights. But having a camera handy when you do is not a bad idea.

The Libertarian Party of Tennessee plans an organized campaign to monitor police checkpoints. You can support their efforts by helping them buy dashcams through an IndieGoGo fundraiser.

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  1. The thing that makes even this very peaceful and filmed assertion of your rights so dangerous is that you just don’t know if today is the day you’re going to get the cop who decides to plant something in your car or who decides to smash the camera and then beat the shit out of you.

    1. All cameras must be able to stream live to an offsite storage location.

      Also, as an aside, if I were chief of police, and one of my officers was caught on camera saying “your constitutional rights don’t count [here]” I would have him fired immediately. If the union wouldn’t let me fire him, I’d put his ass on the shittiest of the shit duties that would hopefully involve an IBM Selectric typewriter and a desk in a poorly lit area in the basement of the station with tons of mandatory overtime. And I’d want to see hourly reports on his productivity- so no slacking and watching youtube videos.

      1. It doesn’t matter if it streams offline if the cop smashes it and then smashes your face. “The camera was accidentally broken during a search of the vehicle”.

        My point is that we know that psycho cops are out there, ones who are so psycho that they actually sometimes get fired. You just can’t know if this encounter is going to be the one with the psycho, making any encounter a possible horror show.

        1. I think the ideal situation is the camera has to be set up in a way where it’s not seen.

          I think that what we’ve seen from a lot of encounters is cop belligerence goes up to factor eleven before he realizes there’s even a camera there.

          You just can’t know if this encounter is going to be the one with the psycho, making any encounter a possible horror show.

          Prudence says that you assume upon every encounter you’re getting the psycho. Which means cameras rolling all the time.

          I’m actually working on a GoPro dash cam which films the inside of my vehicle.

          Doesn’t solve any of my theoretical problems of offline storage, super-hidden etc. But it’s a start.

        2. Like this guy, WTF was he going to do if he got the kids door open? Gently take his license and registration?

          1. Gently taze him into that good night.

        3. Further, I think that most negative confrontations with cops are not deadly to the victim, but are simply middling procedural violations. For instance, the cop who’s willing to shoot you in the face with this .40 for little or no provocation is going to be willing to cover up, lie to investigators, destroy evidence and tamper with witnesses. He’s a murderer. Do we really believe he would shoot you in the face and then be shocked SHOCKED at the prospect of lying on his report?

          No, it’s the generally ‘honest’ cops who are simply ignorant or go into ‘belligerent’ mode when someone dares to challenge their authority.

          I believe that in general, these are the encounters where we (libertarians) have a real chance of making progress. The mundane daily encounter that anyone has a chance of experiencing, but where actual violations of rights occur.

          A murderous cop is a murderous cop. He’s just seen as a bad seed. But ALL the cops who are searching people under questionable circumstances, or because their mayor told them to? That we can confront head on.

        4. Two cameras.

          The police will get lazy/tired from looking for all the possible cameras.

      2. Also, as an aside, if I were chief of police, and one of my officers was caught on camera saying “your constitutional rights don’t count [here]” I would have him fired immediately.

        That is why you would never be made chief of police.

    2. I think the latter is more likely. I don’t know how many coppers, heading out to do battle with the public, do so with spare contraband on their person, but the roid-fueled authority boner can strike at any time, causing the nightstick/taser surrogate to pop up and ruin your day.

      I gotta applaud these guys taking a hit (possibly literally) for justice. I wouldn’t want that hassle.

      1. They definitely have balls, and they go about it the right way (be polite, don’t get agitated), but I prefer the “avoid encounters with cops at any and all costs” method myself.

        1. Me too, last night I was working late and set off the alarm and had to wait on the cops before I could go home. I definitely did not feel very safe standing in the parking lot after dark with the two guys the pd sent.

          1. You didn’t immediately run at them screaming “You won’t take me alive!”, while pointing a vaguely dark object at them?

    3. A fundamental risk management problem. What is the probability of a catastrophic interaction with the police versus the the cost of knuckling under and complying?

      1. What is the probability of a catastrophic interaction with the police

        High, which is why anyone willing to confront cops in these ways gets an automatic bump into the ‘brave’ category.

        1. Doesn’t have to be high, just non-trivial to alter the calculus.

          1. I think when I responded to you, I wasn’t really thinking “catastrophic”. I was playing fast and loose with that term. Ie, catastrophic was when the cop lost his shit and started yelling at you and performed an extra-constitutional search.

  2. TIP: Leave your dog home.

    1. 99% of all dogs shot by cops are killed in the home.

  3. You know who else had armed men stopping people at random checkpoints and asking for their papers?

    1. The last real Indiana Jones movie?

    2. Joe Arpaio?

    3. Your local high school?

  4. having a camera handy with an app that instantly uploads the video to the internet when you do is not a bad idea.

    Minor addendum. Cops don’t like cameras and often tend to confiscate and/ or hulk out on (HULK SMASH!) said camera.

    1. Hence the instant upload. So you at least get what happened up until the hulking out.

  5. Look, anybody with the balls these guys have understand the risks they are taking. And they should be applauded for it.

    Having said that, we will never, ever see this kind of behavior stopping until we hold our police departments and officers accountable for bad behavior. They fund the campaigns of the people they negotiate their discipline policies with. They act in concert with the DA’s who would bring charges against them. And they routinely get a separate set of justice than “civilians” get for similar infractions.

    These guys bring attention to a bad situation. But until a Senator’s kid gets smoked by an out of control pig at a traffic stop or a Congressman’s daughter gets her teeth kicked in and assraped by Johnny Patrolman, we’re not going to see the scrutiny at the political levels necessary to end the double-standard that allows this behavior to go unpunished.

    Have a nice fucking day.

  6. I’m curious what model of camera these guys are using. I’d love to get one for my car.

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