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Respect checkpoints, don’t undermine officers
by Chris Alllen Baker, The Scott County Times
Jul 03, 2014 | 145 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A major holiday weekend is coming up, and we know they will be out there looking, watching and checking everything that needs to be checked. Our law enforcement officers will be out in force, providing enhanced coverage for July 4 weekend.

They need our support through our cooperation and assistance in reporting illegal activity as they can’t be everywhere at all times. What they don’t need is someone helping the criminals.

Last Saturday morning, I was on my way to Morton to take photos of the fishing rodeo at Roosevelt State Park. I encountered a checkpoint that sheriff deputies had set up with assistance from Forest Police just inside the city limits on Highway 80 west.

I remember thinking, “they’re getting an early start on enhanced enforcement. No problem.” So I slowed down enough where I could pull out my driver’s license to have it ready. I was already wearing my seat belt so I was in good shape with that.

As I approached, I witnessed other drivers ahead of me who had been directed to pull over as officers likely found violations and were writing citations.

I pulled up to a deputy who, with courtesy and politeness, took a look at my license to see that it was valid and everything checked out. He politely requested to see my insurance card which I retrieved from my vehicle’s console and showed it to him. He said “thank you,” and I was on my way. The whole experience lasted probably two minutes at best.

I remember thinking that I was grateful for seeing the officers out there and performing their sworn duties. Now, what happened after that is what inspired this subject for this space.

I proceeded to my destination, took the photos I needed at the fishing rodeo and headed back home to Forest where Emily was waiting. I was looking forward to an afternoon of spending time with Aaron while Emily was at work playing music for the International Ballet Competition in Jackson.

On my return, I was nearing the top of the hill just before the city limits, but still out of sight from the officers, when I encountered a white pickup truck. The driver flashed his headlights at me. Because I had already been through there, I knew his intent was to “warn” me about the officers’ checkpoint.

That was just plain wrong.

Motorists who warn others about law enforcement checkpoints are undermining the officers’ efforts to enforce the laws by getting people off the road who should not be driving or are unwilling to follow the laws the rest of us obey.

I would bet that motorist I encountered might think differently if a loved one was killed by a drunk driver who escaped detection because a motorist like them warned the driver of a checkpoint. That’s just one example.

The law enforcement officials conduct the checkpoints for a reason, and they have been supported by the courts as being legal. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about when you see them.

There will likely be more checkpoints this weekend, and I urge my fellow motorists to support our officers who are out there protecting us. Don’t undermine their efforts because you are only putting yourself in danger.

Chris Allen Baker is a native of Winona and serves as the managing editor for The Scott County Times in Forest. He can be reached by e-mail at cbaker@sctonline.net.

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