checkpoints

Police in states across the U.S. have increasingly been employing new methods to search unsuspecting motorists’ vehicles. First came the DUI checkpoints, then the insurance checkpoints, and driver’s license checkpoints. Now, in the Land of the Free, a growing new trend is emerging — Americans will be forced to go through “firewood” checkpoints.

The public reasoning for these checkpoints is state firewood quarantine programs, which prohibits residents of the invasive insect-infected areas, to transport untreated firewood outside that area. While these programs are meant to prevent the spread of the emerald ash borer, a legitimately destructive beetle that targets ash trees, they clearly disregard constitutional guarantees against illegal search and seizure.

Ohio police have been setting up ‘firewood’ checkpoints to search motorists’ vehicles since 2004, with violators potentially facing fines up to $10,000 if they’re caught with the banned firewood, according to the Daily Jefferson. In Michigan, police have been using ‘firewood’ checkpoints since at least 2005, and the list of states using them is growing.

In New Hampshire, traveling with contraband firewood could result in a fine of $250, confiscation of the wood, and misdemeanor charges for subsequent offenses, according to forest ranger Douglas Miner.

Advertisment

Just last week, the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development announced that it would police firewood transport with roadside checkpoints over Memorial Day weekend.

In typical police checkpoint fashion, Miner said he’s legally unable to divulge the locations of the checkpoints — as that wouldn’t allow for enough revenue generating potential.

“It is a similar process to follow as when DWI checkpoints are announced,” he said. “Essentially they are usually adjacent to major roads where signage directs vehicles with firewood to pull off into designated areas for inspection. If the firewood is found to be in violation of the quarantine, it will be confiscated and either a written warning or court summons issued.”

The problem is these stops are often simply a pretext for police to engage in fishing expeditions and revenue-generating behavior.

READ MORE:  Colorado Just Became the First State Ever to Generate More Taxes from Marijuana than Alcohol

While the U.S. Supreme Court has held that DUI checkpoints are constitutional, without reasonable articulable suspicion of a crime being committed, police have absolutely no legal grounds to detain or arrest someone. In fact, existing case law actually requires law enforcement to have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity for police to even require someone to show their identification.

And while the checkpoint stop itself has been granted legitimacy by the Supreme Court, the fact that there is no established reasonable suspicion of criminal activity means that a person being forced to stop at the checkpoint is under no obligation to present an identification or ID themselves.

Of course, while you are well within your rights to refuse to present identification during a checkpoint stop, you would be well advised to record the interaction as law enforcement notoriously responds to a failure to obey their commands with escalation, and often violence, which can quickly turn into a dangerous situation.

Giving an indication of the current police state we are living under, the Mass PrivateI blog reports that there are now THIRTEEN different types of checkpoints being employed by law enforcement.

Thirteen police checkpoints:

  • DUI
  • Super Bowl
  • DUI/Pedestrian
  • License/Registration
  • Safety Belt
  • Bus Checkpoint
  • DNA
  • Escaped Fugitive
  • Pot Breathalyzer
  • Heroin
  • Drug Testing
  • Firewood Checkpoint
  • Boater Sobriety Checkpoint

Let’s be clear — the ‘firewood’ checkpoint has very little, if anything, to do with public safety.

This ever-expanding list of checkpoints is clearly about giving law enforcement the ability to illegally search more vehicles and have contact with more innocent drivers who have done nothing wrong.

READ MORE:  WATCH: Cop Attacks Road Workers So They Take Him Down in Citizen's Arrest

A ‘firewood’ checkpoint is simply a pretext to randomly search vehicles, and a precursor to even more intrusion by the police state, into the lives of innocent and unsuspecting Americans.

SHARE
Jay Syrmopoulos is a geopolitical analyst, freethinker, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs and holds a BA in International Relations. Jay's writing has been featured on both mainstream and independent media - and has been viewed tens of millions of times. You can follow him on Twitter @SirMetropolis and on Facebook at SirMetropolis.
  • Damiana

    I agree with this article. Stopping the spread of “wood beetles” sounds like a (rather stupid) excuse to fish for other “offenses.” Hopefully, the cases they build will be thrown out of court so often that they just abandon the idea altogether. If the charges they press don’t “work” a certain percentage of the time, then they’ll actually lose money on schemes like this one. Let’s see how much they care about those damn beetles when it costs more to look for them than they’re making from arrests.

    Even though I know it’s a LOT easier said than done, I urge everyone who’s caught up in these “checkpoints” to fight their charges on Fourth Amendment grounds. Request a change of venue, and any other tactics you can try to get a judge that isn’t involved in the scam.

    • Dan Quixoté

      I lost two of my favorite three favorite trees to the emerald ash borer, but I still agree with the abolition of these stupid checkpoints. Firewood checkpoints are NOT going to stop the spread of bugs, who are plenty happy to spread themselves anyway.

  • Real Truth stings

    As long as we have the police positioned as revenue generators, we will have bad cops, needless deaths and further erosion of our freedoms. What are the police to do to keep their jobs and funding in a time where crime has dwindled?

    • Damiana

      Convince everyone to pay a fair share of taxes instead of voting for whatever politician promises them they can pay less. I’d be willing to bet a month of my income that the towns with the greediest “fees” for everything and the most ticket-happy cops are precisely the same towns that have low sales tax and “incentives” to lure businesses into the local economy.

      • G’ma G

        Spot On!!!

  • John C Carleton

    Ohio has been a militarized police State for generations.

  • Jim T

    This is a very good plan to put into action. Cross contamination of disease caused by a bug or beetle that could spread into healthy woodlands. I totally agree with this program. Entire towns have lost their trees because of infectons of disease. spread by humans and natural sources. Far as it being the gateway to finding other criminal activities could be part of it as well.

    • Guy

      Your first 3 1/2 lines were right on. The last one, you managed to miss the mark completely and fall off the page, landing right into Schmucks Ville U.S.A…………..’Here’s Your Sign!”

  • Libertygirl1

    Hi, It seems like you took this article from this source: http://massprivatei.blogspot.com/2017/05/police-firewood-checkpoints-coming-to.html without giving any credit to the original source/author. Since I read both, I will be reaching out to massprivatei to let him know in case he hasn’t seen it yet. I would think that your site would be above plagiarism.

    • Damiana

      This article merely covers the same SUBJECT as your source. Do you honestly think that if one person talks about a thing, anyone else who brings it up is just a copycat cheat? Fuck off, with your one-comment sock puppet account!

  • Jack Rainier

    Folks do a little research. The problem with invasive insects being spread via firewood is very real. The ash borer is decimating forests and is spreading rapidly. Firewood is the MAIN source of their spreading. It only takes a couple and you have a brand new outbreak that cannot be stopped.

    • Lorne Allen

      The article doesn’t say the quarantined firewood should be transported unlawfully, it says innocent people should not be stopped and searched because the police think they may have the wood. It would be like searching every vehicle on the road because it may have contraband of some kind in it.

    • Tony Mcrae

      This is an issue for the Department of Natural Resources, not the police. It isn’t their job. At all.

    • Dan Quixoté

      No it’s not. Cite a scientific article if you disagree. I lost two of my three favorite trees to the emerald ash borer, but I still agree with the abolition of these stupid checkpoints. Firewood checkpoints are NOT going to stop the spread of bugs, who are plenty happy to spread themselves anyway.

  • tz1

    The Emerald Ash Borer is a threat to every Ash tree in the USA. Even now it is getting critical. Insects don’t care about volunteerism, and your neighbor’s firewood will kill your trees if it is infested.
    If you don’t like this, then you should hate the Endangerd Species Act which cause far more violations where property owners can’t do anything and made California’s drought worse since water had to be released instead of being used for crops because of a fish.
    Where’s The Lorax when you need him?

    Personally, I’m of a mixed opinion. Firewood from infested areas isn’t color-coded. Much wood not be infested. But if some is, all the trees in the area will die. This is an area where voluntrism fails. Nature doesn’t recognize the virtual property lines we draw. An no matter how unintentional, things we do affect others in good and bad ways. I might like the smell of your flower garden, but if you don’t control your weeds, my yard will take much more work.

    I don’t approve of violations of civil rights in any case, but invasive species are a problem and break the NAP, even if through ignorance or negligence.

    • Tylek T’sarran

      ROFL
      They have to control weeds because your yard… LMAO

      • tz1

        They don’t, but when I from a distance bash the hornet’s nest just inside my property line during their outdoor barbecue they might realize nature doesn’t respect invisible, arbitrary lines.

  • Echo Moon

    i have been stopped for this ‘wood inspection’ while driving a jeep cherokee that was empty and i was the sole occupant of the vehicle.
    they demanded that i exit my vehicle for a search and give them my ID along with the paperwork pertaining to the vehicle. i refused and they got a ‘little upset’ with me….. i keep a printed copy of my vehicle paperwork which is what i handed them but not my license. the jeep had tinted windows and that was the excuse given for demanding that i get out. told them that it was easy enough for them to look thru the tinting that there was no legal reason for me to open any door and allow them entry.
    i pretty much ended up surrounded and all the focus was on me while numerous campers, motorhomes and what not were waved by.
    they threatened to bring in a drug dog, which i told them to go a head that i had no problem with it. kept me for about an hour before finally conceding that they had no right to hold me any longer.

    • Dan Quixoté

      Well done!!

  • David Rivers

    There’s no way to rule innocent men.
    The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals.
    Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them.
    One declares so many things to be a crime
    that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

  • Zackknowitall

    I don’t care what they call the check point there will never be a search of by car with out consequences.

    • Guy

      Keep saying that to yourself, as you watch your car being taken down the road on a tow truck, after it has been impounded.
      Or in my case here, no inspection for Zebra Mussels prior to boat launch, no launch period. No plant inspections for Sharp Shooter’s, no planting or plant sales, and they will just be loaded back onto the truck they came off of, and sent back to where they came from.

  • Jon A. Niedzwiecki

    No you don’t have a constitutional right to destroy the ecology and the economy of my State. Whoever wrote this needs to read the Constitution in it’s entirety.

    • Lorne Allen

      The writer does not say that the wood should be transported illegally, he says people should not be subjected to police interference and searches based on “they might have it”. Grown-ups should be assumed to be complying with the regulations until there is proof they are not. Perhaps an optional checkpoint for compliance and educational purposes would be in order.

      • G’ma G

        Thank You !!!

  • Aren’t all checkpoints legally optional? Don’t stop!

  • Guy

    Here in California the home of just about every type of invasive bug or plant disease known to man, including claims and certain varieties of fish. We take our inspections very seriously, but never once have I seen it used as the pretext to look for something else. The inspections I have seen and been done to by the inspectors have allways been conducted efficiently, thoroughly and respectfully by thouse whose job is to do just that and nothing else more, and never by State Or City Cop’s. Which I think is probably the main reason why they in other States would have a problem with it. Considering thouse guy’s (cops) could not find each others ass with a flashlight and map, who no doubt, would be using the inspection as the excuse, in looking for anything else they might find.

    These plant diseases and invasive pest are nothing to fool around with, being dangerous to us, and the environment we all live in. A little inconvenience to put up with a inspection for a few mineuts, to me is no big deal and well worth the cost vs. the risk.

    Get the cops out of there, replace em with State or County inspectors, who are trained and knowledgeable about there jobs, and you should have no issues, except for those that are trying to get around the inspection process to make a quick buck. For thouse types who do get caught. I hope you get your butt reamed out with a Large Pine Cone !

    • Daniel Ponton

      @guy, The calif bug check stations are a big joke. When i was a semi truck driver (retired last year) most times i went into calif and was stopped at one of the bug stations in Truckee or east of Barstow, and was asked for my BOL’s, i would some them some other paper work. All the inspectors did was go thru the motions. I even gave them paperwork from an oil change i got from a TA truck stop once since it had around 4 or 5 pages to it. The inspector looked at all the pages, gave them back and waved me on. Half the time i dont even think they know what they are looking for. When i am in my pickup truck and go thru a bug station, and the inspector asks me if i have and fruits or veggies with me, i tell them no, there are already enough in calif lol all my family still lives in calif so that is the only reason i go out there anymore. I live in the mid-west and gas runs around $2.30 a gallon. Two months ago when i went to visit family in April, the first place i stopped to get gas in calif, it cost $3.38 a gallon. There is no excuse to pay over $1 more per gallon in calif, and moonbeaam brown raised gas taxes 42 % starting in Aug.

      • Guy

        No Fear Daniel; Old “Moonbeam” is not half done with, his royal screwup with this State. He’s got plenty more were thouse came from, especially now that he is a Lame Duck. I couldn’t stand the SOB’s Dad Pat, when he was around either, and his kid, is even more worse now, than when he was Gov the 1st time.

        You might want to reconsider your visiting plans, gas will be up another buck, by the end of summer.

        As to the bug stations, you are right they are a joke. But to me the zebra mussels and sharp shooter inspections aren’t.Those are nasty bugs and mollusk, that can do a lot of real damage once established ! Just like the *Fruit Fly* was. So by trying really hard to keep em out is a good idea.

    • Sallie Dodd Butters

      Good idea…
      Education and reasonable enforcement are the answers…..Invasive species are in every quadrant of our world….Dumped ship ballast, warming waters, horse and beef manure, transported hay, hunters and fishermen in their boots and boat hulls & 4 wheeler tires AND wood infested with hungry bugs with no natural predators. .I’ve lived in Alaska for over 40 years and I’ve seen devastation on all fronts ..Two things you can do are wash your tires, boots and equipment, and check the bale string color codes on any hay you buy from a different area or State before you travel.

  • G’ma G

    I’m so glad only people with firewood have to stop. I won’t have to stop to have my “art” supplies and garden wall material inspected. Seriously though, I live in an area where we have pine bark beetle infestations so I don’t mean to be insensitive. However, liberty is not risk free. Leave people alone. If wood beetles is your issue educate yourself on natural controls and get busy. For starters have the police pass out information brochures instead of tickets.

  • Victoria Princeton
  • Victoria Princeton

    I shared the info – as I was unaware of the ‘ash borer’ – so I appreciate this coming on my radar