Anti-Crime Checkpoints in Jackson, Mississippi, Blatantly Violate the Fourth Amendment

Wayne Halcomb is told by a Jackson police officer that they are checking the driver’s licence and proof of insurance. He was a local resident, who has been waiting at an anti-crime checkpoint in a long queue of cars. “Why?” Halcomb continues. “Have i committed a criminal act?” He is stopped by the officer without probable cause, reasonable suspicion or any other reason. However, he becomes confused at his resistance and eventually releases him after repeatedly refusing to produce his insurance proof or his license. “Am I being detained?” Halcomb inquires. Halcomb asks.

Halcomb added, “That’s the way you deal with checkpoints people” in his Facebook video. In an attempt to capture people on outstanding warrants, the Jackson Police Department conducted a series of blatantly illegal traffic stops in Jackson. This incident shows the intrusiveness and intrusiveness. Halcomb stated that Jackson’s NBC affiliate WLBT should outrage at the incident. “I am aware that I am white and try to make a difference by using my white privilege.”

In a 2000 ruling, the Supreme Court clarified these issues by stating that Indianapolis checkpoints meant to stop drug trafficking were illegal. “We recommended in [the 1979 case Delaware v. Prouse]The Court stated that it would not consider the “general interest in crime prevention” as a reason for the establishment of a system of suspicionless stops. Indianapolis vs. Edmond. According to this suggestion, all the approved checkpoint programs were designed to be used for purposes related to the problem of border security or to policing. The Fourth Amendment is infringed by the Indianapolis Narcotics Checkpoint Program. Its primary function is to find evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Jackson Police Chief James Davis stated that Jackson’s Department’s “Ticket, Attain, Tow” program (TAT), has exactly the goal the Supreme Court declared to be constitutionally inadmissible. Davis claims that the program is an “administrative checkpoint.”[s]Where we are searching for wanted persons,” claimed last week. He also boasted that they have made “over 100 felony arresteds since January.”

Davis’ response on complaints regarding the TAT checkpoints that havedisproportionately affected black motorists suggests that he does not understand the Fourth Amendment. Davis said that they had misinterpreted the Fourth Amendment and were trying to target a specific group. Our intent is to remove wanted people from the streets. The Supreme Court says that this intent can’t be used to stop drivers if they are suspected of traffic violations, or other crimes against the law.

In a Thursday letter, the ACLU of Mississippi attempted to clarify this to Davis. Joshua Tom, the legal director of the ACLU of Mississippi wrote that it is a well-established law that checkspoint programs with the primary goal to control general criminal activity violate the Fourth Amendment. “It’s clear that general crime prevention is the primary purpose of the Checkpoint Initiative. The federal laws declare it unconstitutional.

Davis must be cognizant of this fact in light of five-years old federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Mississippi against Madison County sheriff’s office. Tom pointed out that Madison County had spent two-and a half years defending itself, but only to be compelled to sign a four-year, court-supervised consent decree, under which, among many other things the Madison County Sheriff agreed to alter its policies and procedures as well as its training and monitoring of checkpoints. Jackson Police Department will continue to use unconstitutional policing such as the Checkpoint Initiative, Tom warned. “We are ready to protect the rights and freedoms of all Jacksonians.”

Jackson’s anti-crime strategy seems to contradict the reputation of Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, an activist and self-described progressive who was first elected in 2017 and won a second term in 2021, when he was endorsed by the country’s best-known democratic socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.). Lumumba stated in a 2017 interview that he is a member the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, as well as Cooperation Jackson and the Coalition for Economic Justice. These are all organizations that promote self-determination and human rights for everyone. Lumumba also stated that Jackson was a hotbed of crime, and promised to take “some steps that we believe will bring change.”

Jackson’s TAT program is certainly a significant step. It’s another question whether that step should be welcomed and celebrated by civil liberty advocates as well as those concerned with racial bias in police operations.

“Citizens have had some loud and passionate reactions to daily roadblocks/checkpoints set up by the Jackson Police Department all over the city,” local podcast and radio host Brad Franklin writes in The Jackson AdvocateAfrican American weekly. It is a welcomed attempt to reduce the crime surge. Others, like me, see it as something different—an attack on impoverished people.”

Franklin shares his personal experience of the devastating effect traffic enforcement has on those with modest incomes. He was issued a routine traffic ticket that he couldn’t afford, and his license was suspended. Further fines were imposed on him every time he got behind the wheel. Franklin claims that he couldn’t afford to insure his car, leading to further fines. He owed over $5,000 in court costs and fines, which Franklin was unable to afford. A loan that “put him in even more debt” helped pay the rest.

Franklin was actually breaking the law, which is unlike the other people being stopped at TAT checkpoints. Jackson’s dragnet may catch people guilty of traffic violations but any benefit to public safety must be considered against the harsh consequences for law-abiding individuals. Franklin points out that suspending driver’s licenses can be a disruptive and costly penalty. It means people are unable to legally drive to their jobs to pay the fines. If they try to drive, they will be subject to additional fines.

Franklin states that citizens are being held and vehicles town on the spot, if necessary. The problem is: how can they make money to tow their vehicles out of impound?

Davis claims that checkpoints have also led to more serious crime victims being arrested. Random pat-downs and warrantless home searches could also be cited. However, the Fourth Amendment forbids such tactics.[ting]Davis calls it “wanted individuals from the streets”.

Halcomb said that you can’t make everyone a criminal just to catch the criminals. It’s not how America operates.

Jackson is happy with the current arrangement. Davis appears unaffected by any criticisms received from ACLU members and local residents. He says that the ACLU and residents are making a difference. “It’s making an impact,” Davis said. “I’m determined to do all I can to keep Jackson safe.”