Personal Thoughts

Editorial Section

The Supreme Court on
Unreasonable Searches

You're walking down the street and suddenly several police officers come out of no where to search you for a weapon or drugs that you know you do not have. What do you say to them when they brush the dirt from your cloths and tell you that you can go now?

"Sorry your anonymous tip didn't work out, officers."?

How about, "You barbarians ruined my day!"?

Neither of these seem appropriate. Okay, what do they say to you, after smoothing down your hair-lick and tucking your shirttail back in your pants?

"You're free to go now, citizen."?

How about, "Just doin' our job, mister."?

Hum.... that's suppose to make it all right, I suppose.

The Supreme Court recently decided that an anonymous tip is NOT enough evidence of wrong doing for a police officer to violate your 4th Amendment right. In response, Robert Scully, executive director, National Association of Police Organizations, said, "As a consequence of this ruling, the danger to law enforcement officers and the general public will significantly increase, and we fear that more officers and more members of the public will be assaulted and murdered."

Let me get this straight. The fact that a police officer cannot act on an anonymous tip, frisking and searching anyone accused of a crime (carrying a concealed weapon without proper legal process is illegal) by just anyone off the street, is going to endanger us? Why, it seems to me that allowing police officers to search someone on just any anonymous tip is an even bigger risk, at least to the poor chap to whom it occurs.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of people in positions of authority trying to scare the living crap out of my children, my grandchildren, myself, you, and the rest of American society. Why are these folks doing this?

For example, for the past 7 years (it dates back further but the brunt of the push has taken place during this administration's reign), we've been told about little hill-billy men with "Hate Thy Neighbor" written across their foreheads (they call them "domestic terrorists") when practically nothing was happening. Oh, we did have several instances where citizens and police clashed, but some of them seemed questionable (Waco, OK Bombing, and the World Trade Center). When all of that didn't scare the pants off of the public enough for them to beg the President to issue military troops on our streets, they suddenly began to pound it into our heads that OUR CHILDREN were at risk. "Do it for the children" became their battle cry!

TV networks began broadcasting each and every school shooting in the nation, capitalizing on each one for days on end. All of the free education that came out of this taught additional children the fine points on how to terrorize their schools and teachers. Needless to say, the number of shootings and other incidents increased by leaps and bounds as a result. And, after each and every one of those events, the networks were careful to expose ALL the facts, giving additional children a free education on terrorism and how they can use guns to get their way. So, our children graduated from childhood to terror-hood.

Do It For The Children

Now, in the name of school security, authorities have obtained wider sweeping powers. How wide? In Jackson Twp., Ohio, a student was detained and searched by a police officer as he approach the school building. Jackson Twp. Police had received an anonymous tip that he was carrying a firearm. When the search was over, the officers came up empty handed, other than holding the boy's pride and self-esteem in their hands.

Now, I do not know this boy, and I do not know the situation, so, perhaps, the officers were acting in well intended good faith. But, there is no escaping the simple, plain fact that this young man's 4th amendment right was violated. There was no crime and yet he was detained and searched (in Ohio you cannot carry a concealed weapon). Was there enough provocation for police to act on an anonymous tip?

The High Court showed good judgement when it voted to end personal searches resulting from anonymous tips. If a person is not willing to give their name to a police officer when reporting a possible crime, then they are not that convinced that it could be a problem to them or society in general.

If you disagree with my opinion or the Court's decision, I'm sure you're not alone. However, consider the fact that we now live in a society of folks who have been well trained not to care about others by simply not getting involved. We've been groomed and well trained by our public schools not to get involved in matters of this kind. How can I say that? How do I know that? Because both of my daughters, now 24 and 25 years of age, have assured me that, where they attended high school in the Chicagoland area, they were taught NOT to get involved. They were expressly told to walk away from another's situation, to leave it alone, especially where the authorities are involved. After all, they are the authorities.

So, we don't seem to care about the civil right violations that are increasingly taking place... UNTIL IT HAPPENS TO US!!

Consider for just a moment that all that someone would have to do to ruin your day, your reputation, your good job, is to report to authorities that you are carrying a gun to work. Can you begin to imagine the implications of a SWAT team shaking you down in your office cube? What would management think? Would they possibly figure that the mere fact that you were the object of such an investigation means that you are a serious liability, despite the fact that you were not carrying a firearm? How long do you suppose it would be until they would find a reason, any reason to terminate your employment contract? YOU'D SURELY CARE THEN, would you not?

So, we have a high school boy who allegedly carried a gun to school, a gun that wasn't there. The first thought that came to my own mind was, "he probably heard that one of his classmates had turned him in, so he left it at home or hid it somewhere." Is that right? I don't really know, do you? Is he the kind of kid who would do that? Well, whether he is or not, to those at that school, HE NOW IS!

Sorry for yelling like that, but can you even begin to realize the significance of a police officer searching one of your children in public for all to see just because of some anonymous tip? Why, they're now suspending first graders for saying things like, "I'm going to kill you," despite the fact they hear it every day on television! (remember the Monkey See, Monkey Do rule.) Wonder if that was your kid. Oh, but it wasn't--your johnny wouldn't do something like that, right?

You'd better wake up and turn the coffee pot off before it catches on fire. How do you do that? Oh, I'm tired of hearing, "I'm only one person, so what can I do?" You and I can get off of our lazy butts and write letters to our Congressmen, to our Mayors, to our Chief of Police, to our Sheriff's, to our newspaper editors, and to judges who fail to throw out cases where police officers have conducted themselves improperly. We can make a difference. YOU can make a difference.

Al Colombo

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