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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Proper exercise of law enforcement power is respectful, and appreciated.  Improper use of law enforcement power is terrifying.

Law enforcement officers in our country are vested with great power.  Used correctly, this power can keep our communities safe.  When used incorrectly, however, our civil liberties are lost.

Civil liberties are what allow us to be who we want to be.  Freely speak, freely choose our own religion or none at all, freely move state to state, among other rights.  These rights should be respected and the loss of these rights should be feared.

Exercising civil rights and raising civil rights violations should be applauded, not punished. Equally so, law enforcement who recognize, protect, and refuse to violate civil rights should be applauded.

Civil rights belong to each of us – including those who serve as law enforcement officers.  We have to work together to preserve our civil rights.  That includes law enforcement having the courage to admit when civil rights are violated and putting measures into place to ensure that civil rights are not violated again.  Protecting our civil rights also includes having the courage to speak out in support of civil rights and having the courage to raise civil rights violations so that, hopefully, the violations will not happen again.  For law enforcement and citizens alike, civil rights are worth fighting for – they give each one of us freedom of choice and the right to be free from persecution because of such choice.

Recently, Idaho gained national attention when its legislature voted to allow guns on college campuses.  Whether you own a gun or not, and regardless of whether you agree or disagree with guns on campus, the national attention that the guns on campus bill received has branded you, as an Idahoan, as carrying a gun.  Now, how would you like to be pulled over while traveling in another state just because you have an Idaho license plate on your car and the officer is convinced that you are carrying a firearm illegally through their state?  Is the civil right to travel state to state without being harassed because an officer associates your license plate with something illegal a right worth fighting for?  Darien Roseen thinks so.

Mr. Roseen is a seventy year old retiree.  He was traveling through Idaho following his daughter’s baby shower in Washington.  Upon crossing from Oregon to Idaho his Colorado license plate was spotted and he was immediately pursued by an Idaho State Trooper.  Mr. Roseen was stopped, detained, was deprived of his property, and was extensively searched because the Idaho trooper who stopped Mr. Roseen was certain that Mr. Roseen’s Colorado license plate meant he was in possession of marijuana.  He was not.  But, he was, and still is in possession of the courage to fight for civil rights and has filed a lawsuit to do that very thing.

I no more wish to be stopped by law enforcement outside of Idaho because an officer believes my Idaho license plate believes I am in possession of a firearm, than I wish Idaho police to stop interstate travelers based on a perceived profile associated with their license plate.  License plate profiling is not worth fighting for.  The civil rights that such profiling violates are, however, and Jones & Swartz PLLC is honored to be fighting for the same.

Posted by eswartz at 3/29/2014 9:38:00 PM
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