Racial Profiling in Fort Lauderdale?
Maybe not, because it looks like Randy
may have stumbled into somebody else's movie . . .
Recently, Randy Saint-Jean, a young black Haitian-American had an encounter with the police here which distressed and perplexed him. He reported it to lawyer Howard Finklestein. Howard is the local Public Defender who has a feature segment on local TV which aired the story.
Howard's associate, Patrick Fraser, has written a good recap of the situation which is admirably succinct, so it won't take you long to read.
One evening as Randy was driving his vehicle, a police officer pulled him over and called to his attention that his tag light was out. Then the incident mysteriously morphed into a roadside checkpoint for drugs.
Randy wants an explanation for what happened to him. And he also wants to know whether it was lawful for the police to conduct such an operation.
I'm not a lawyer, but, as far as I know, it is lawful for the police to establish a roadside checkpoint for alcohol or drugs; however, I believe, the law stipulates that the stops the police make should be conducted on a random basis.
Since Randy is an ordinary law-abiding citizen, he is living proof that he was a random driver passing through that checkpoint.
The explanation for what happened
to Randy that evening may be a bit more complex.
It is my impression that Randy happened to stumble into the middle of a Hot Spot Operation in progress.
Hot Spots are generally based on neighborhood traffic patterns. They may be triggered by grassroots complaints from area residents or members of a neighborhood association. A Hot Spot is, in simple terms, an anomaly.
In Randy's case, my sense of the overall situation is: there was a suspected drug dealer around the corner from the checkpoint who was being targeted that evening.
This nearby roadside checkpoint could enable the police to accumulate evidence against the drug dealer which would provide Probable Cause for an indictment against him, because some of the motorists being stopped at that location would include that drug dealer's customers.
The ultimate objective of this process is the extirpation of a dangerous predatory criminal from the neighborhood which would be safer without him.
Part One of Two