To The Editor:
The Oswego City Police Department has conducted checkpoints along various locations of Route 104 on Aug 23, 28, 29, 30 and September 6. The reason given for these checkpoints is to look for registration and seatbelt violations.
Checkpoints that are deemed constitutional in the United States consist of DUI checkpoints (in 39 states, NY included), border crossing checkpoints, and TSA checkpoints.
Any other type of police checkpoint, except in extreme circumstances, is an unconstitutional tactic used to ensure compliance with a given law.
All citizens facing a checkpoint will be presumed guilty, having their person and property searched for compliance. This presumptive tactic does not justify a reasonable search, as well as satisfy the probable cause statute, set forth by the Constitution.
The Fourth Amendment states, ”The right of the people to be secure in their persons, papers, houses and effects, from unreasonable search and seizure, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause.”
By conducting these checkpoints the Oswego City Police department is eroding citizens’ constitutional rights.
One of the most sacred principles in the American justice system is the concept of being innocent until proven guilty. The recent checkpoints are assuming guilt until proven innocent.
In addition, the Supreme Court and articles of confederation have long recognized freedom of movement as a fundamental constitutional right (Corfield v. Coryell 1823 and Article 4, respectively).
Several New York cases such as People vs Scott (1984), People v. Richmond (1997), People v. Smith (1996) and People v. Holley (1993) make it clear that procedures and protocols for DUI checkpoints must be in writing.
Even though the recent checkpoints in Oswego have been for registration and seatbelts and not DUI, the aforementioned protocols and procedures have been ignored.
Some may say, “If you’re not doing anything wrong, there is nothing to be afraid of.”
This line of thinking is dangerous. The Constitution and Supreme Court of the United States have granted citizens the right to free travel, the protection from unreasonable search and seizure, and the presumption of being innocent until proven guilty.
The recent checkpoints in Oswego go against the very fabric of our nation, and inherently take away the freedoms our founding fathers granted us.