Things The Police Have Been Doing Lately -The Toast

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I cannot say I care for this one:

Several Durham police officers lied about non-existent 911 calls to try to convince residents to allow them to search their homes, a tactic several lawyers say is illegal. The officers targeted residences where individuals with outstanding warrants were thought to be living, and told them that dispatch had received a 911 call from that address, when no such call had been made.

TRICKY! Hopefully — hopefully they would use it as a last resort, for some pretty serious warrants, not on frivolous nonviolent possession charg–

In February, Officer A.B. Beck knocked on the door of the defendant’s home in South-Central Durham. When the defendant answered the door, Beck told her—falsely—that someone in her home had called 911 and hung up, and that he wanted to make sure everyone was safe. The defendant permitted Beck to enter her home, where he discovered two marijuana blunts and a marijuana grinder.

When Beck took the witness stand, he admitted to fabricating the 911 story in order to enter the house. Beck testified that his true intent was to serve a warrant, though he never produced the warrant in the courtroom.

Beck further testified that the 911 ruse was permitted under a department policy in cases where domestic violence is alleged, recalled Morgan Canady, the defendant’s lawyer.

During cross-examination, Canady quizzed Beck further.

Did you say there was a 911 hang-up? she asked.

Yes, he said.

But there was not a 911 hang-up?


So you entered the house based on a lie?


And this is your policy for domestic violence warrants?


The Durham police chief has since sent out a memo banning the practice, which I find adorable for some reason. “No more fake 911 calls, lads. Make a note of it. Do you think you can remember that, or should I send out a memo? I’ll send out a memo.”

As a nation, we’re not so rich in beloved, award-winning journalist that we can afford to detain and arrest them:

Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and filmmaker José Antonio Vargas, who started the campaign Define American and has been outspoken about being undocumented, was detained in McAllen, Texas as he was trying to board a plane, according to a press release from United We Dream.

But here we are, detaining and arresting them.

The ACLU has a rather disheartening primer on the subject:

  • Normally under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the American people are not generally subject to random and arbitrary stops and searches.
  • The border, however, has always been an exception.  There, the longstanding view is that the normal rules do not apply.  For example the authorities do not need a warrant or probable cause to conduct a “routine search.”

Any time an explanation of civil liberties begins with “Now, normally under the Constitution, people are not subject to ____” it’s not going to end great. This one doesn’t end great.

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