Kentucky — An ominous bill that is currently making its way through the Kentucky Senate aims to give police unprecedented unconstitutional powers. These new powers will allow cops to stop anyone they want and demand that person tell them who they are, where they are going, and explain their actions. Naturally, it has civil rights advocates up in arms, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing down the bill’s momentum.
Police merely need to make an unsubstantiated claim that a person is involved in criminal activity which gives them free reign to stop that person, demand his name, home address and age — as well as ask to see his driver’s license, if he has one — and tell him to explain what he is presently doing “to the satisfaction of the officer.”
If you invoke your constitutional right not to answer the officer’s questions, this new bill grants cops the right to detain you for two hours. Even more ominous is the fact that this detainment is not considered an arrest so you have no right to an attorney and police don’t even have to record it. This non-arrest grey area detention will undoubtedly be rife for abuse.
Nevertheless, advocates for the police state tyranny say cops must have this new ability—to keep us safe. As Kentucky.com reports, Sen. Stephen Meredith, R-Leitchfield, said Grayson County law enforcement officials asked him for the bill after a number of local incidents showed the need for it.
“If a man acts suspicious, then why wouldn’t you want to know what his name is?” Meredith said in an interview. “I can’t imagine any legitimate reason in the world why a person would refuse to give their name and photo identification to a police officer if they were asked.”
In other words, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear…or, in other words, submit to the police state. Wrong!
Well Sen. Meredith, we’d like to educate you in why a person would refuse to talk to police—because it is our right not to! Legislation like this is straight out of the playbook of every tyranny in history. Remember “Ihre Papiere, Bitte”?
That phrase often brought shudders to the people who heard it in the 1930s and ’40s. It is German for “Your papers, please,” and this bill is nearly identical to that sinister Nazi policy.
Critics of the bill are pointing out its obvious unconstitutional nature and note out how cops can already go after people if they suspect them of committing a crime. As Kentucky.com reports:
Police officers already have the right to approach people on the street and ask their names, but it’s established that citizens can refuse to respond, said Aaron Tucek, a legal fellow at the ACLU of Kentucky. If police can show reasonable suspicion that someone is carrying a deadly weapon, they can proceed to frisk that person, Tucek said.
But they cannot detain people simply for not identifying themselves or explaining their activities “to the satisfaction of the officer,” Tucek said.
“The whole section of the bill on detention — they can call it whatever they want, but Supreme Court case law is pretty clear that an arrest is not determined by whether you call it an arrest, it’s determined by the restraint you place on someone’s liberty,” Tucek said. “If you put someone in the back of a police car or if you take them down to the police station or if you otherwise refuse to let them go their own way, that’s an arrest, and in our country, you cannot do that without probable cause.”
We agree and so does the constitution.
“The idea that we can detain people because we find them to be suspicious and we think they might commit a crime, that crosses a dangerous line,” Rebecca DiLoreto, who lobbies in Frankfort for the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said. “Now, unfortunately, it has been known to happen. Sometimes it’s in a mostly white community where someone spots a black person walking down the street and they get suspicious and call police.”
“The ‘crime’ in this case is basically that you’re here and we don’t think, from looking at you, that you should be here,” she added. “The potential for abuse in that seems obvious.”
DiLoreta also pointed out the menacing nature of cops being able to essentially kidnap anyone they want for hours and keep it off the record. Nobody ever should be taken into police custody without a record being made of it, she said.
“That’s starting to approach what you see in a police state or Soviet Russia,” DiLoreta said.