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The 11th circuit court has provided an epic slap-down on police…er, exuberance, ostensibly in order to enforce state  regulations via warrantless SWAT raids. From Reason.com:

Although ostensibly justified as a regulatory inspection, the raid on Strictly Skillz, like similar sweeps of other barbershops that same day, was part of an operation hatched by (Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Amanda) Fields and Cpl. Keith Vidler of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), who hoped to find drugs, “gather intelligence,” and “interview potential confidential informants.” The barbershops chosen for the sweeps “were apparently selected because they or barbers within them had on previous occasions failed to cooperate with DBPR inspectors,” the court says. “All of the targeted barbershops were businesses that serviced primarily African-American and Hispanic clientele.”

The 11th circuit held that . . .

 

Conducting what is in fact a search for criminals and contraband under the guise of checking to make sure your business licensing is in order is, in the vernacular, bullsh*t. It has held that such raids are unconstitutional. It is, in fact, an unreasonable search. In this 2010 incident the court stated of the raid that it was “clearly established to be illegal from its inception…”

It is possible the two public servants who hatched the plan will be stripped of their sovereign immunity and made to pay civilly for their profoundly bad judgement. However, I note that there were a lot of officers involved who put on vests, drew their weapons and watched as a shop owner was handcuffed while his barber’s licensed was checked.

Our ability to live in peace with one another depends upon the voluntary acquiescence by citizens and officials to the rule of law and that acknowledgement that those laws are binding.  Perhaps some of these barbershops were hotbeds of criminal activity – I am sure Al Capone hatched plans for some of his awful crimes while enjoying a shave and a haircut. But the law is the law. That the law is the law is a concept apparently lost on these police officers who executed a blatantly illegal action and the colleagues who went along with it.

If law enforcement officers are to retain and/or regain their credibility, cops are going to have to look at their idiot colleague who thinks cuffing a barber while his license is inspected is OK and just say “no”.

76 Responses to The Curious Case of the Handcuffed Barber

    • It’s really great TTAG is all up on cops like this. A bunch of gun owners are very selective about which authorities they’ll criticize. They never read past the 2nd apparently and just buy guns to protect their other guns.

        • Dude, where have you been for the last 13 years? Gun owners (along with most everyone else, to be fair) were all about doing whatever to stop the terrorists, and Dom Raso still makes NRA branded vids. Nobody’s immune to playing favorites. Don’t get complacent.

        • When I first read your statement I thought you were being sarcastic and saying gun owners are uneducated and just buy guns to protect their guns. After your response I reread it and realise you may not have been trolling afterall and I just misunderstood your statement. If that is the case then I apologize.

          If not…. BAD TROLL!

        • To paraphrase DMZ’s trolling: “all you gun owners are willing to give up any liberty to stop terrorism aside from your 2nd amendment right.”

          Step up your game, son.

  1. Well said. The police are out of control in this country. It’s like they’re just egging the population and itching for us to fight back. Let’s hope any fighting back is limited to the court house and the voting booth.

    • Ten lashes with a horse whip for a first offense by a public servant, and castration for a second would likely get the point across. Then again, quite a few of the people in civil service I’ve met aint even that smart.

  2. Sorry, I missed this illegal raid. I would not normally be there anyway, since my wife has cut my hair for a half century now and she now can use smaller scissors (which as we know are not as dangerous as those longer ones!). And she does has a license, and more than one.

    Handcuffs while they check the license (which is not to protect the public but rather to protect other licensed barbers and cosmetologists)! I guess if it was a S&M barber shop they would have enjoyed that?

    Another incident of the heavy-handed response of government agencies.

  3. Fortunately I don’t live in Florida, because last week I gave myself a flat top. I hope the SWAT team doesn’t show up in the night.

    When the officers tasked with enforcing the law show a blatant disregard for the law themselves, why would the citizen (subject) respect them or the laws they enforce? Hypocrites rule with fear, never respect.

  4. Jessie! Al! Eric! Hop to it men!

    Thar’s gold in them thar minority barber shops and the cops are handing it to you on a silver platter.

  5. They came for the Barbers and I said nothing for I was bald.
    Police are controlled by Unions
    Unions are controlled by Obama

  6. 30k children live in homes with unsecured scissors. Over 10k children get bad haircuts every year. Felons and mentally unstable people are buying shaving cream in online marketplaces without a background check. You do not need an electric razor to hunt, I mean cut your hair. Chicago needs less barbershops within the city limits to protect the “vunable.” Europe has some of the tightest hair control on earth, and their hair is perfect. Look at this baby!

  7. My favourite,

    “interview potential confidential informants.”

    What? “Hey, anybody here want a bright start into the fast paced exciting world of snitching?”

    I can’t believe they cited that as a reason. Seriously.

  8. I once suggested (hyperbole) that some Police Departments might use SWAT teams and MRAPs to collect overdue library books to rationalize their “need” for such resources, under the terms of 1033. I had one reply from an anti-gun nut who complained about my “imagination and exaggeration”.

    It seems that my hyperbole was close to the truth.

    • Actually had a librarian in NC get a warrant for an overdue book a few years ago stopped the guy for 60 in a school zone getting ready to finish the ticket & the warrant popped up. The local pd had registered it in NCIC, dispatcher called them to verify the warrant I handcuffed him as all it said was felony theft. Dispatcher called back valid & they would extradite. Got to the jail found the faxed copy & almost died when saw it was for an overdue copy of a kids book. They extradited the guy so a $8.95 overdue library book cost taxpayers over $70thousand for it all said & done. He plead guilty got 5 years suspended & a fine.
      Proof that government = stupidity.

      • Quite a lesson in madness. I imagine you are grateful to be retired from serving that madness which you describe.
        It’s true you were “only doing your job” when you handcuffed and arrested a “criminal” for “felony theft” , which was all the information available to you. Maybe a lot of the disputes between “civilians” or “members of the public” and police are rooted in the information provided to the police by “higher authority”.
        One thing I found unclear — what was the sentence “5 years suspended & a fine” for? Was it for the $8.95 library fine? Or was it for the “60 MPH in a school zone” for which you originally made the traffic stop?

        I would leave it to public opinion to determine what would be just, in the circumstances you describe.

        • The library book was the sentence & fine. The speeding ticket he paid $450 and points, for that he knew he was in the wrong. But totally assinine for a prosecutor to even get a warrant much less extradite over a book. They apparently wanted to make an example of get tough on crime in an election year.

          This is the crap our founders wanted to stop, but government abuse of power continues no matter who is in charge. You vote for the lesser of the 2 evils and hope for the best.

          Locally at least no nocks are reserved for drug dealers w/known or suspected weapons & so far all have had weapons 99.999% stolen.

        • Thank you for that follow-up. In-f’n-credible! The endangerment of life by speeding at 60 in a school zone is punished by a fine. But woe to the poor sufferin’ bast’d who dares keep an $8.95 book from the library.

  9. Implied immunity is now being used as a shield against accountability. This will continue until the public begins to force local politicians to all-to-cozy relationships with local police. This sort of thing has been going on for a very long time. Change will be slow, but change is coming.

  10. The bad thing is that there are cops dumb enough to shake down a barber shop,under the guise of checking licenses ( what, is this the 1970s again?) The good thing is the Federal appeals court slapped them down. Checks and balances, beyotches!

    • I love Steyn’s razor wit…

      “When Hillary Clinton and Anna Wintour get together, the scary bangs are courtesy of Anna’s stylist. In Florida salons, the scary bangs come when Amanda Fields’ Hair Team Six kicks your door down.”

      *rimshot*

  11. One thing that is really bothering me of late is the growing number of government agencies with their own armed agents and even SWAT-like teams. The government seems to think that the world is so dangerous for their employees doing their jobs that they send in armed “Department of Education” agents, armed IRS agents, and armed “Department of Agriculture” agents to do investigations.

    At the same time they act clueless as to why a pizza delivery person or plumber or electrician needs to be armed to enter some neighborhoods.

    I don’t hear any of the anti-gunners complaining about all the non-LE government employees packing government issued firearms.

    • “One thing that is really bothering me of late is the growing number of government agencies with their own armed agents and even SWAT-like teams.”

      It’s bothering me more and more.

      What’s needed is the disbandment of all these little “Brownshirt” agency SWAT teams.

      Roll ALL of them into the US Marshall program.

      At least that way we can have standardized responses instead of all this willy-nilly bullshit and maybe, just F-ing MAYBE, get some consistent accountability.

  12. For those of you who are all surprised about this, the case is from 2010. If you haven’t heard of it yet, then what you should do is get a book titled “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces” by Radley Balko, and read it. Among a review of constitution and laws pertaining to SWAT and raids, and how we gradually got to where we are (as well as naming the people responsible – from Nixon and Reagan to Biden and Obama), it also has a meticulous listing of various particularly egregious or botched abuses of police power. This case is documented in that book, among other things, and trust me that it’s not the most damning by far (though possibly one of the most weird). Others include using SWAT to break up a private poker game, for example, or serving a health inspection in a restaurant.

    I believe that this corpus of facts is so damning that no person who gets acquainted in it can possibly believe that there isn’t a problem with police militarization and aggressive tactics in this country (unless they’re personally engaging in such themselves). I also believe that this problem is so serious that we need a massive rally from both sides of the political spectrum to fix this problem.

    To that extent, here’s the deal. If you add this book to your wishlist on Amazon, and post a link to that wishlist in response to this comment, I will buy it with my own money, as a gift. In return, I only ask that you read it, and if you find the case therein compelling, to spread the word further.

    Here is the Amazon product page for the book:
    http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Warrior-Cop-Militarization-Americas-ebook/dp/B00B3M3UFQ/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

  13. Here we go again, bash the police free-for-all. As LEO, I do not have to regain my credibility because I have always had it. I strive to do what is right every day, no matter who I may piss off. I am done hearing how every cop is bad, that would inclide me in that generalization. By, by TTAG, I am over it. Your Have been terminated from my favorites list.

    • Did you know, that as a member of an organization, your credibility with the public at large is far more derived from the actions of your peers than yourself? People whose lives you have directly touched know you are a good officer, but strangers do not, and you can’t know everybody. That is why LEO’s must watch for and ruthlessly expel anyone who does not live up to the high standards befitting the extraordinary trust and power given police officers. We’ve seen all too frequently that police can do terrible things, and go unpunished. There is a need for police to exercise their authority, of course, but when it is abused, the very legitimacy of law enforcement itself is badly damaged. Police are mere mortals, but the powers they are given trump their peers, so they should be held to a higher standard. I suppose that would mean that such an arrangement would doom some police officers to punishment for abusing their authority, but perhaps such an arrangement would make the profession less attractive to people who can’t be trusted with power over their fellow man.

      The profession has been getting physically safer and safer over the years, thank goodness. That is why I feel justified in saying there should a rebalancing; that the profession should become more legally risky than it has been, both to ensure police forces become cleaner, and to re-legitimize officers’ place of honor in the nation. There’s no honor whatsoever in the ‘home safe’ mindset; that’s cowardice.

    • Well, that’s your choice, I suppose. Even I sometimes think the anti-cop stuff goes too far around here, but this post is not a good example of that occurring. This case was a whole lot of bullshit, and is/was a pretty big deal in central Florida. If you read a little more about it you’d probably get that. The comments section for this post has, at the moment, very little cop bashing at all, and is filled much more with people having fun with the subject material (e.g. “First they came for the Flowbees…”).

  14. Someone probably insisted that any such inspections first involve a form being filled out. That form probably asks something like “Is it probable that there will be edged weapons available?” And someone probably checked “yes.” Oops, tactical callout due to weapon availability!!!

  15. “Our ability to live in peace with one another depends upon the voluntary acquiescence by citizens and officials to the rule of law and that acknowledgement that those laws are binding.”

    Close but not quite. Our ability to live in peace with one another depends upon the voluntary acquiescence of citizens and officials to respect the fundamental human dignity and rights of all people. A team of armed individuals who bust into a barber shop as described in this article do not respect the dignity or rights of the occupants of that barber shop. Rather, the attitude of those armed individuals was, “We own your @$$ and will do whatever we want to you, whenever we want, and you will like it.” That is the breakdown.

  16. Here’s a link to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion: http://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/files/201314092.pdf

    The good parts are in the beginning. The boring lawyer stuff is at the end. It’s very worthwhile reading.

    The regulators were in the barber shop to check licenses two days before they came back with the police. Everyone had proper licenses on the first visit. The police conducted the raid a few days before school started, so there were a number of children in the shop getting haircuts when the police stormed in with guns drawn and started zip-tie cuffing the barbers while they “checked their licenses.” They also told everyone in the shop that it was “closed down indefinitely,” even though it wasn’t.

    While race is by no means the most important part of this story, it is worth noting that there’s no way in hell the regulators conduct a guns drawn, police assisted raid to check barber licenses at a salon in a white suburban neighborhood.

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