Post details: More Info On Marines Manning San Bernardino County Sobriety Checkpoints


Permalink 23:51:17, Categories: Privacy, Right to Travel, Checkpoints, 510 words   English (EU)

More Info On Marines Manning San Bernardino County Sobriety Checkpoints

(Photo: Marine checkpoint in Iraq)

As reported earlier, I came across additional information regarding the participation of the U.S. Marines in sobriety checkpoints being conducted by the County Sheriff and Highway Patrol in San Bernardino County, California.

According to a December 10, 2008 press release from the Highway Patrol, USMC Military Police participated in a joint task force with the County sheriff and state police to conduct a sobriety checkpoint on December 12, 2008. All in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act that prohibits the military from participating in civilian law enforcement operations under most circumstances.


Lawrence Taylor at DUI Blog had this to say regarding the news:

Here Come the Feds (cont’d): Marines at DUI Roadblocks
Posted by Lawrence Taylor
December 16th, 2008

I’ve posted in the past about the increasing federalization of drunk driving laws and law enforcement procedures. See Here Come the Feds and The Future of DUI. But even I wasn’t ready for the latest development…

The U.S. Marines have landed…and are apparently manning "sobriety checkpoints" in San Bernardino County in California. Yes, Marines. Yes, civilian DUI roadblocks.

From an official December 10th California Highway Patrol public relations release:

CHP to Conduct Sobriety/Driver’s License Checkpoint

The Morongo office of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) in conjunction with the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department and the USMC military police will conduct a joint sobriety/driver license checkpoint on Friday, December 12, 2008, somewhere in the unincorporated/incorporated area of San Bernardino County.

As an American citizen, not to mention a former Marine, I find this troubling — particularly in view of the clear wording of the Posse Comitatus act of 1878, described in Wikipedia:

The Posse Comitatus Act is a United States federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1385) passed on June 16, 1878, after the end of Reconstruction. The Act prohibits most members of the federal uniformed services (the Army, Air Force and State national Guard forces (when such are called into federal service) from exercising nominally state law enforcement, police or peace officer powers that maintain "law and order" on non-federal property (states and their counties and municipal divisions) in the former Confederate states.

The statute generally prohibits federal military personnel and units of the National Guard under federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress. The Coast Guard is exempt from the Act.

A follow-up call to a Marine Corps public affairs sergeant resulted in assurances that the Marines would be there "as observers". Hmmmm…..military observers. Isn’t that how it all starts?

Thanks to Branson Hunter and Andre.

It should be noted that I previously blogged about suspicionless checkpoints in San Bernardino, County well over a year ago. At that time, the county sheriff was stopping vehicles to conduct suspicionless searches for fireworks. It seems that San Bernardino County authoritarians not only have a thing for Fourth Amendment trampling enforcement operations, but now want to bring the military into the action as well.

So much for being free from unreasonable search and seizure....


Comment from: bob [Visitor]
Sounds like the proper response to this, like the gentlemen who responds to the warrantless search points in the SW is

"Am I on a military base?"

"I do not recognize your authority to engage in police enforcement activities. I am therefore free to go. Thank you for your service to our country."

Of course, it's a lot easier to type such things into a comment on a blog, but a lot harder to do it.
Permalink 2008-12-18 @ 04:18
Comment from: LoLo [Visitor]
Hey I put the same concerns up in a forum and most of the former military poo-pood this. One said MP's can arrest a citizen because they are empowered as cops. Anyone have any data about this point?

Permalink 2008-12-20 @ 21:04
Comment from: Mike [Visitor]
LoLo: Military Police *DO NOT* have authority over civilians. An MP may detain a civilian on a military installation for cause, but has no arrest authority and must turn that person over the the civilian authorities. An active-duty service MP's authority stops at the base gate (short of Congress suspending Posse Commitatus). National Guard personnel are *state* assets unless activated federally; I cannot speak to that situation. Having been an Air Force SP, I will tell you that we did observe civilian law enforcement on occasion for common things like DUIs, etc; purely to learn new approaches and trade ideas. We were *never* armed, nor did we ever intervene.

I do take issue with the photo used in the article; it seems deliberately inflammatory. The photo is clearly that of an Iraqi checkpoint; I have no doubt the intent is for some readers to be horrified that fully equipped infantry appear to have *already manned* a sobriety checkpoint in San Bernadino County
Permalink 2008-12-22 @ 10:50
Comment from: LoLo [Visitor]
Thank you mike,
I appreciate the information including that photo being in Iraq...I thought it wasn't...and I was alarmed.

But I have read that people were shocked to see marines that far off base in San Berandino are and there were lots of calls about it.

This is the part I don't like about it: it's perceived as an intimadating presence. I mean it would be freaky to me even as someone who is essentially right wing. Perception counts for a lot. I mean I've been in 3rd world countries where armed military are around and it was always kinda creepy to me, even if they had good reasons for it.
Permalink 2008-12-22 @ 13:32
Comment from: Checkpoint USA [Member]
"I do take issue with the photo used in the article; it seems deliberately inflammatory. The photo is clearly that of an Iraqi checkpoint; I have no doubt the intent is for some readers to be horrified that fully equipped infantry appear to have *already manned* a sobriety checkpoint in San Bernadino County"

My apologies. My intention was to depict an actual Marine checkpoint to show people what such an operation normally looks like, not to insinuate that the photo was taken from the San Bernardino joint task force operation. I've posted a caption underneath the photo to clarify.

I also point out that the press release from the California Highway Patrol clearly indicates the DUI checkpoint is a joint action with the military police and makes no attempt to explain what role the military police will have at the checkpoint or what gear will be on display.

Regardless, the military in any capacity has no business at a civilian checkpoint operation.

Suspicionless checkpoints for any reason are inflammatory enough. Having the military present as well is over the top and shouldn't be tolerated.
Permalink 2008-12-23 @ 02:01
Comment from: Jim [Visitor]
Actually there are areas where SoCal highways pass through military property in San Bernardino County. As well as observing for training purposes, wherever that may apply, because of the large number of active duty military in the area MP's may be there simply to take immediate custody of any active duty personnel caught in such operations.
In those areas where the highway passes through military reservations the jurisdiction is actually shared.
Permalink 2008-12-23 @ 13:16
Comment from: Checkpoint USA [Member]
Actually there are areas where SoCal highways pass through military property in San Bernardino County. As well as observing for training purposes, wherever that may apply, because of the large number of active duty military in the area MP's may be there simply to take immediate custody of any active duty personnel caught in such operations.

In those areas where the highway passes through military reservations the jurisdiction is actually shared.

Then such areas should be clearly marked so travelers know what to expect while driving through them.

Additionally, there's no indication in the county sheriff press release that the location of the checkpoint was within the boundaries of a military base. It's just as likely that the operation took place off the military base as on it.
Permalink 2008-12-31 @ 10:23
Comment from: JTK [Visitor]
And it also possible that military police may be useful outside of military bases if it comes down dealing with drunken military personnel.
Permalink 2008-12-31 @ 20:52
Comment from: Mike [Visitor]
It is my understanding that under the Patriot Act has suspended or REDEFINED the Posses Comitatus Act of 1878 with the introduction of NORTHCOM or Northern Command. Read this wiki excerpt: On October 1, 2008, the US Army announced that the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT) will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command (NORTHCOM), as an on-call federal response force for natural or man-made emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

This marks the first time an active U.S. Army unit will be given a dedicated assignment to NORTHCOM, where it is stated they may be "called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) attack." These soldiers will also learn how to use non-lethal weapons designed to "subdue unruly or dangerous individuals" without killing them, and also includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and beanbag bullets.[5] However, the "non-lethal crowd control package [...] is intended for use on deployments to the war zone, not in the U.S. [...]".[5]

The US military will have around 20,000 uniformed personnel in this role in the United States by 2011, specifically trained and equipped to assist state and local government, respond to major disasters, terrorist attack, other major public emergencies.[6] This shift in strategy is a result of recommendations by Congress and outside experts.[6] This response capability is not new, but now accompanies a permanent assignment of forces to NORTHCOM.

This formalizes a role for the use of federal troops within the United States during major public emergencies and disasters, as was the case in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.[5] This has raised concern about the relationship between Posse Comitatus and the use of the military in domestic disaster support and homeland defense roles.[7]. However, federal military forces have a long history of domestic roles.[8] The Posse Comitatus Act prohibits the use of federal military forces to "execute the laws"; however, there is disagreement over whether this language may apply to troops used in an advisory, support, disaster response, or other homeland defense role, as opposed to conventional law enforcement.[1]

On December 10, 2008, the California Highway Patrol announced its officers, along with San Bernadino Sheriff's Department deputies and US Marine Corps Military Police, would jointly staff some sobriety and drivers license checkpoints.[9] However, the Marines at the checkpoints are not arresting individuals or enforcing any laws, which would be a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act.[10] A spokesperson said that the Marines were present to observe the checkpoint to learn how to conduct checkpoints on base, to help combat the problem of Marines driving under the influence. The Marines at a recent checkpoint learned techniques to conduct sobriety checkpoints and field sobriety tests.[10...... Comments and guidance would be greatly appreciated....
Permalink 2009-01-15 @ 21:40
Comment from: capmotion [Visitor] ·
I was interviewed by the press when this Yucca Valley affair first came down the pike, and then I spoke about it on LawTalk, on KNWZ 1140, in Palm Springs. It is patently illegal. The CHP officials who invited the MPs to participate can be prosecuted for federal felonies [and should be] and the Marine command that allowed it could be busted and drummed out of the corps, and should be. This is not a Banana Republic where the military points its guns inward toward the citizenry. This is outrageous, and I am hoping that the new president, being a former constitutional law professor, will move swiftly and firmly against the MPs and the CHP. To commit federal felonies to apprehend people accused of state misdemeanors rather sticks in the craw of those of us who give more than mere lipservice to the notion of a government of laws.
Permalink 2009-02-18 @ 17:56
Comment from: Alex [Visitor] ·
Our popular culture believes "the troops are fighting to protect our rights and freedoms"

Port Hadlock
Permalink 2009-02-18 @ 19:05
Comment from: Anthony Moschetto [Visitor] · http://mosquito
Wow! I stumbled onto this by mistake and could not believe my eyes. I am currently a Corporal with a Sheriff's Department in Southern Maryland (one of the most liberal states in the U.S.)and a former U.S. Marine M.P. First of all those who are blasting the CHP, the U.S. Marine M.P.'s, or any other agency for DUI/DWI initiatives should have your head examined. It is obvious that none of you have had a family member killed or injured by a drunk/drugged driver. I have performed CPR on a 3 month old little boy for 15 minutes until EMS arrived but still died as a result of a DUI suspect who caused a vehicle crash.
You also forget that there is nothing in the United States Constitution that gives you the right to drive "period". It is a privilege to drive. Therfore we have the Implied Consent laws for Chemical testing of breath/blood/urine/etc.
Now with that said, did any of you think, as some of you previously stated, some roads have concurrent jursdiction (both Military Police and Civilian Law Enforcement have jursidiction). This would explain the presence of Military Police. AND for those who didn't know, the Military Police can conduct traffic stops, issue citations (DD Form 1805 and 1408), conduct criminal investigations, and charge criminally in the Federal Courts Systems through the U.S. Attorney's Office. If any Military personnel were detained/arrested for DUI/DWI they would have been taken into custody by the M.P's. This would avoid the "Double Jeopardy" arguement that the Military faces when charged with a crime by civilian Law Enforcement. Not only do they face the charges in the civilian world but then they face Military punishment such as Non Judicial Punishment, Courts Martial, Etc.
Now lets look at training. As a trained DUI/DWI Check Point Manager, I know that you have to be trained to conduct Sobriety Check Points in most states to ensure the fine line is follwed and 4th Amendment issues are not violated. As a Standardized Field Sobriety Test Instructor, there is a certain amount of actual testing of subjects (SFST's) and observations that must be completed.
Bottom line ladies and gentleman, I am very certain that the CHP, U.S. Marines, and the other Law Enforcement Agencies that were involved knew what they were doing and were not violation the Posse Comitatus Act. Grow up and put your energy to more important things like how you would feel if one of your family members, fiends, spouses, child, or anyone that means anything to you was killed by a DUI/DWI driver. OR how would you feel if the CHP, M.P.'s, or the San Barnardino Sheriff's Office stopped that person before it happened. Because they probable saved someone's life that night.
Permalink 2009-07-16 @ 17:18
Comment from: Disgusted [Visitor] ·
There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that allows DUI checkpoints either, dumbass. MP authority ends at the boundary to federal reservations, period.

If you believe so much in the military taking running the country, why don't you reenlist and go serve in Afghanistan? Your type won't be missed in the U.S. Better yet, go live in some banana republic like Columbia where the military walk the streets. The rest of us don't want to live in a war zone - or what looks like a war zone.

I'm from a tenth generation U.S. military family, so don't even try to question my patriotism or manhood, but I do question your intelligence.
Permalink 2009-07-16 @ 22:46
Comment from: Checkpoint USA [Member]

It sounds to me that if anyone needs their head examined, it's you.

Every major checkpoint study across the country along with comparative statistical studies show that suspicionless checkpoints are far less efficient at removing drunk drivers from the road than traditional roving patrols where vehicle stops are made based upon reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

What that means is if police officers were really interested in protecting people from drunk drivers, they'd stop harassing the general public with suspicionless seizures along public roads and concentrate their efforts on roving patrols.

Want to save the life of a three month old infant from drunk drivers? Try getting behind the wheel of a patrol vehicle and go out looking for impaired drivers instead of standing around in the middle of a public street with your thumb up your butt harassing people just trying to get home from work or the grocery store.

Of course there's not nearly as much overtime pay or federal grant money associated with real police work these days. Especially when so many authoritarians such as yourself prefer the shock and awe approach of arbitrary police intrusion into our daily lives instead of investigating real crime. Hell, even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration admits roving patrols are far more effective at identifying and removing drunks from the road than sobriety checkpoints.

As such, go cry your crocodile tears to the parents of children killed by drunk drivers because you were too busy collecting overtime pay while standing around in the middle of the road.

Next, you go on to make the foolish claim that there is "nothing in the United States Constitution that gives you the right to drive 'period'".

If you had a clue regarding what you were talking about, you'd realize the Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that the U.S. Constitution recognizes the individual right to travel - and to do so in the common conveyances of the day. Driving is of course a form of travel and 'We The People' allow regulations such as licensing for the sole purpose of making sure those who are driving know how to operate their vehicles safely.

What you forget is that there's nothing in the U.S. Constitution that gives you the authority to setup checkpoints where individuals are seized absent any suspicion whatsoever. In fact, there's an amendment that explicitly prohibits it. You may have heard about it once a long time ago. It's called the 4th Amendment.

With regards to MP's having concurrent jurisdiction, that would only be true IF the checkpoint was setup within the boundaries of a military base. There's nothing in the public announcement making such a claim. If the checkpoint took place outside the boundaries of a military base, the MP's had NO business being there whatsoever. In fact, if MP's have so much free time on their hands as to be able to man civilian checkpoints off military bases then perhaps they need to be transferred overseas. Better yet, perhaps the military needs to be downsized so there aren't so many idle hands looking to harass the very public that pays their salary.

In other words, grow up Anthony and put your energy towards more constructive endeavors such as a good old fashioned roving patrol where you stop someone based upon probable cause instead of undermining the principles this country was founded on.
Permalink 2009-07-16 @ 23:48

Comments are closed for this post.

Roadblock Revelations

Welcome to Checkpoint USA's blog. Here you'll find general information and discussions regarding growing threats to our right to privacy & travel.

While I refer to court cases along with state and federal law frequently in this blog, nothing written here should be construed as legal advice. I am not an attorney. Rather, I'm someone concerned about the growing disregard for individual rights present at all levels of government.

My conclusions are my own based upon personal experience and research. The law is made purposely complex however and varies significantly from place to place and circumstance to circumstance.

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