Fourth Amendment

When Is Violating the Constitution by Pulling Over Motorists With No Legal Justification 'Not a Bad Thing'?

When the cops just want to reward you for "good driving behavior" by giving you a drink coupon, according to a Phoenix TV station.

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This morning a Phoenix TV station aired a feel-good story about cops who are "rewarding people for good driving behavior" by pulling them over and giving them coupons for drinks at Circle K convenience stores. "If you see a Tempe police officer pulling you over," chirped Colleen Sikora, a correspondent for the NBC affiliate KPNX, "it may not be a bad thing. If an officer sees someone following traffic laws correctly related to bicycles and pedestrians, they can pull you over, but instead of a citation, you'll get a free drink coupon for either a cold drink or hot beverage…They're kicking off the campaign this morning at 8 a.m., so if you see police lights in your rear view mirror, maybe hold off on the panic."

For anyone who values the Fourth Amendment, which requires that police have reason to believe a driver has committed a crime or a traffic violation to justify forcibly detaining him, the program described by Sikora is definitely "a bad thing." That sentiment is clearly shared by viewers who reacted to the story on Twitter. "This is an insanely bad & illegal idea," one commented. "This is actually illegal," observed another.

Seth Stoughton, a former police officer who is now a law professor at the University of South Carolina, elaborated: "This is absolutely unlawful. A traffic stop is a seizure, and must be supported by probable cause of a traffic infraction or reasonable suspicion of a crime. A traffic stop that lacks one of those legal justifications violates the Fourth Amendment."

To its credit, the Tempe Police Department seems to recognize that stopping motorists because they are not committing any traffic violations would be unconstitutional. According to the written version of the story on the KPNX website, bylined by Sikora herself, Tempe Det. Greg Bacon "said officers won't be pulling over drivers, but officers will find opportunities to engage and educate citizens on traffic laws."

Bacon explains the "Positive Ticketing Campaign" this way: "We will be having positive conversations with citizens. Say an officer happens to stop somewhere and see somebody, and says, 'Hey, would you mind having a conversation with me?' [to] educate them on bicycle laws and traffic laws." KSAZ, the Fox station in Phoenix, likewise says "Tempe police report they will not be pulling anyone over to give them a free drink coupon." In a tweet this afternoon, the Tempe Police Department reiterated that officers "will not be proactively stopping vehicles, bicycles, scooters or pedestrians."

A police department dispatcher described the Positive Ticketing Campaign as a "back-to-school program" aimed at bikers, scooters, and pedestrians. She told me it was never meant to target motorists.

Given that police officers across the country have been less punctilious about following the Fourth Amendment when they perceive themselves as doing nice things for people, Sikora's initial confusion may be understandable. But her insouciance in the face of blatant constitutional violations is harder to fathom.

[Thanks to Seth Mandel for the tip.]

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  1. Firstly, would the reporter.

    Secondly, stopping people not suspected of a crime is illegal.

    1. Stupid HOT propagandists for the state are the best lays.

      They really think that they are “helping people”. I give the chicks my mic and they oblige trying to get more than the first 10 inches in.

    2. She is very cute. I dig the 70s sort of Farrah hair.

  2. I have never had this happen but I always ask the officer why they are stopping me to get it on video.

    If a cop said he was stopping me to reward me for “good dr..”…VROOOM…

    I would drive away. Haha.

    I love fucking with stupid cops who harass people. I flash my headlights to warn drivers of speed traps and occasionally gets stopped by police. After I ask why the officer stopped me and they cannot give me a constitutionally valid reason, I ask if I am free to go. The answer is always yes.

    I recommence the headlight flashing to warn other drivers and drive away.

    1. “I flash my headlights to warn drivers of speed traps…”

      They’re not “speed traps” they’re cops looking for people who are driving at excessive speeds and putting others at risk. I don’t warn other drivers because I want them to get ticketed for speeding.

      When I see someone pulled over, I think to myself:

      “Good, you smug prick, you just paid $160 for being a selfish, reckless asshole.”

      1. I love to pass dipshits like you who dont have the engine power to stop me and then as you finally catch up to my vehicle… I slam on the brakes.

        You slam into the back of my vehicle and I sue you into oblivion.

        Plus, the cops haul you away because you’re drunk, high on weed, and cannot put two sentences together.

        1. I love to pass dipshits like you who dont have the engine power to stop me and then as you finally catch up to my vehicle… I slam on the brakes.

          Remember, always use a dashboard cam so you can catch people like loveconstitution1789 committing insurance fraud.

      2. “It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.” ~ Voltaire

      3. Yeah, because that speed limit is always the perfect limit – its set by ‘Top Men’ after all – and its set by selfless people who are only working to set the perfect trade-off between traffic flow and safety and are absolutely not influenced by considerations like ‘generating revenue’ and ‘oiling squeaky wheels’.

        Nope. No sir.

        So, getting that speeding ticket because you were doing 32 in a 25 on an empty 4 lane, non-residential street, at one in the morning is perfectly justified for those selfish, reckless assholes.

    2. Oh, I almost forgot; sometimes I do flash my headlights but only when there is no cop radaring. I like making people slow down to comply with the speed limits and pissing them off when they realize there’s no cop and I was just fucking with them.

      1. You’re also the asshole that sits in the passing lane right at the speed limit, aren’t you? You pencil necked prick.

        1. Only when you’re sitting on my ass. But once you try to pass me, I gun it. Then I watch you express your impotent rage through my rear-view mirror. Oh, the joy I feel watching you scream in frustration.

          1. It’s not going to be funny when you piss off some mentally unstable person and they shoot you though your rear window with a 9mm.

            I would feel for your family, but I wouldn’t exactly feel bad for you, considering that you’re gleefully breaking the law by “gunning it” and making the entire road a lot more dangerous for innocent families on the road.

        2. This LiborCon troll cannot get past 55 mph on his 3-banger.

          1. My, my, the number of folks posting here who seem to think that speed limits somehow violate their rights, or that someone actually obeying speed limits is somehow a threat to both their identity or … dare I say it, masculinity, seems quite humorous.

            1. As someone who’s lost many pets and seen neighbor kids mangled, I’m all for rigidly obeying speed limits in residential zones…but there’s much more to it than that.

              Take a new ‘expressway’ built near my house about a decade ago. It’s alleged purpose was to ‘stimulate the economy’ by making it easier for tourists to visit a podunk lake resort nearby (it, of course, didn’t work.) First, the county used eminent domain to take people’s property, which pissed off the locals something fierce. Now, as legal maneuvering continues, we’re treated to the sight of those empty, dilapidated houses with their huge ‘the crooked ‘X’ county government sucks’ banners now liing the majority of the road.

              The worst part, though, is that they set the speed limit on this ‘expressway’ to 35 MPH. It is rural – not a residential zone – and the speed limit signs are posted very sparingly so out-of-towners can’t figure out the limit. Naturally, drivers go around 55 because it has three lanes and is engineered like and LOOKS just like an Interstate Highway. No sharp curves, etc.

              Every day, the cops are out there in their shiny new SUVs and Challengers, stopping people all day and night. Mainly black folks and out-of-towners from what I can tell (I guess the majority of residents are already pissed enough.) They sit at the bottom of two long hills (gets people going even faster) and make a mint with this particular racket!

              I always make a point to ask passengers “what do you think the speed limit here is?” “55” or “70” are invariably the answers. Much like how I’d still go 70 or 80 on some of the no-limit roads out West, people everywhere generally have a good idea of what speed is safe for given conditions.

              This is how the government spends its time and our tax dollars – feeding off of us like vampires, with malice aforethought. There is little serious ‘malum in se’ crime here, and without these sorts of rackets, a lot of government employees would be on welfare. The government creates ‘need’ to sustain itself. Imagine if they weren’t there, or devoted themselves to something productive instead of graft and racketeering?

              1. I hear you on this, and I have certainly seen such things myself.

                I remember an article, I think here on Reason, where some police department, or State police, spent a bunch of money on some pretty sophisticated night vision so they could see and stop people at night for not wearing their seat belts — they actually said that was the purpose. I didn’t know that people who don’t wear their seatbelts every second they are behind the wheel are a huge, huge, danger to society. (They would never, of course, use it to spy on resident’s night-time “pool parties.” )

  3. Unconstitutional things are afoot at the Circle K.

    1. I knew those Jews were up to no good.

    2. Someone’s phone booth is going to get pulled over.

    3. Don’t forget to wind your watch!

  4. Sikora’s initial confusion may be understandable. But her insouciance in the face of blatant constitutional violations is harder to fathom.

    You misspelled “ignorance”, and there’s nothing hard to fathom about it at all. News babes aren’t hired for their brains.

    1. Newsbabes are hired for skills that have little to do with brains.

      1. And has a lot to do with their skills at kneepads and mouthwash.

        1. If her wash basin was mounted higher then she wouldn’t have to kneel to spit her mouthwash, and probably everything else like wash her hands, brush her teeth, etc. I really can’t imagine having to live with such a low basin. How inconvenient. Although, if there is some reaso why this basin absolutely has to be at kneeling height, why use kneepads? Why not just use a nice soft rug or a cushion of some sort like what for kneeling in church? Good grief, Charlie Brown. This woman’s quality of life could be improved significantly.

  5. ‘Hey, would you mind having a conversation with me?’

    Get a warrant.

  6. There is also the minor issue of the government promoting one business at the expense of others. Maybe the people who run 7-11s would like the cops to start promoting their business?

    This is wrong on so many levels.

    1. Are you familiar with the Phoenix area? There’s a Circle K on practically every corner. 7/11s? Not so much.

    2. This ain’t the late-70’s/early 80’s anymore. 7-11 are practically extinct in Southern Arizona nowadays. Circle K won the franchise wars, so now all restaurantsconvenience stores are Circle K. Especially the 7-11’s.

  7. No one’s going to make a joke about Detective Bacon? I’m canceling my subscription.

    1. Bacon makes everything better.

    2. 120 degrees (Fahrenheit) of Detective Kevin Bacon?

  8. dude, yum. love the strategically placed mic.

  9. There is no such thing as a positive conversation with an officer.

  10. There is an alterior agenda here, Tempe cops pull over college students, people leaving the bar district, this will allow stops looking for drugs but mostly drinking, even if no prob cause behavior was exhibited. Never surprised what the reagan-cancer nazi republicans will do next to subvert democracy. They tried this some 20 years ago here and it got tossed. This is about getting DUI fines, lets tell the TPD to fu*k off. Respect LE? Then remember who pays your salary, Tempe, AZ tax payers. This is a republican idea, no doubt.

    1. Are you gonna vote for crime bill Joe or Prosecutor Harris?

  11. “…the deceased then made a furtive gesture in the direction of both the officer and the drink coupon, after which time the deceased was found with several bullets lodged in and around his heart.”

  12. Can you use the drink coupon to get booze?

    1. I suspect not, but it will free up other money for booze.

      1. …and cigarettes and lottery tickets. Plus a bag of chips.

  13. Once upon a time, the city of Tucson would pull over travelers and invite them to be honorary marshals of the annual Rodeo. They would target cars with out of state plates occupied by retired-looking couples.

    I always thought that escapade was a heart attack waiting to happen.

  14. In Maryland there are still occasionally sobriety check points stopping all that pass. When I stopped and asked the officer under what reasonable cause was used to stop me I started getting the drunk driving lecture. In mid sentence I told them I am leaving and they backed off. Need to challenge this nonsense the stop is clearly a stop and frisk/search operation even if they give you a coupon.

    1. I dont even stop for those unconstitutional checkpoints. I roll through. If I have to stop because the car in front of me stops, I dont roll the windows down but hold my Cato pocket copy of the US Constitution up to the glass.

      I ALWAYS get waived thru.

      Cops use these checkpoints to target ignorant Americans who dont know and wont stand up for their constitutional rights.

  15. Government in general uses threats or actual force and violence against the people in order to assure compliance to its own set of plantation rules. Why should travelers, some of whom may be drivers, not fear the cops? If cops were not armed, and if there was no police brutality going on as a normal method of policing, cops might not be feared. But they are and there is, and so the fear is justified.

    I have often thought that dual camera dashcams should be mandatory equipment installed in all new cars and trucks as they will help mitigate police violence on our roadways. We know government uses cameras to spy on the people, and it is time for the people to return the favor by tracking their own interactions with government.

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