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10/5/2007
Missouri: Residents Fed Up with Roadblocks
Saint Louis County, Missouri residents are growing tired of drunk driving roadblocks designed to generate traffic citation revenue.

Roadblock
Residents in Saint Louis County, Missouri are growing tired of being stopped at police roadblocks. Although local police insist that the stops are designed to cut down on drunk driving, it is far more common for the stops to generate nothing but revenue from seatbelt and paperwork violations. A group of businessmen have banded together to speak out against the speed traps and roadblocks that have driven away customers from areas around Natural Bridge, a four mile stretch that runs through eight separate speed trap jurisdictions.

"Natural Bridge used to be really busy," tavern owner Shaun Butler told the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper. "Now it's like a ghost town."

Motorist Brett Darrow, 19, filmed an encounter at one of these roadblocks last November. He was ordered out of the car and nearly arrested for saying nothing more than, "I don't wish to discuss my personal life with you officer." View video or read transcript of incident.

Normandy Police Chief Douglas Lebert questioned the motivation of the small towns that operate the roadblocks -- especially Beverly Hills, Pine Lawn and Uplands Park which earn between one-third and two-thirds of their annual budget from traffic citations.

"I would say that the lack of solid crash data and the fact that they're not concerned with the business owners' perspective on this leads me to believe that it's policing for profit, not policing to try to solve a problem," Lebert told the Post-Dispatch.

Motorist Jabara Burris, 27, was stopped on September 14 by a Beverly Hills Police roadblock. He was ticketed for failure to produce proof of automobile insurance. Burris, who is insured, later found his insurance card in the trunk of his car. When he returned to the roadblock, the police response was, "Tell it to the judge."

Source: Searching for drunks triggers a backlash (St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), 10/1/2007)

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