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”.