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It's not a police roadblock as that would be illegal...

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It's a "checkpoint". ... zoneid=177

Checkpoint targets Route 9 travelers

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - Bangor Daily News

TOWNSHIP 30 - A Nova Scotia man was nabbed for impersonating a police officer. For others who found themselves in trouble with the law Monday, it started with an invalid inspection sticker or out-of-date registration.

All ran afoul of a "checkpoint" at the rest area on Route 9 in Township 30.

Almost any day of the week, the area is about as busy as a City Council meeting, but not Monday. The parking lot was filled with cars â€" both police and would-be violators.

Dubbed Operation Lobster Claw, the checkpoint by the Washington County Sheriff’s Department was set up on Route 9 to stop traffic. Three K-9 units, the Maine State Police Vehicle Enforcement, along with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, also were there.

It wasn’t a roadblock, because roadblocks are illegal, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It was a safety inspection.

"There’s a difference between a checkpoint and a roadblock," Sheriff Donnie Smith said Monday. "We have the legal right to check vehicles. [We] go to secondary [check] if for some reason they stand out, that’s legal," Smith said.

Route 9 is Washington County’s answer to the interstate, so the road was busy on Monday. Police know that drugs come across the border into Calais from Canada and traffickers use Route 9 to hot-foot it to Boston, where prescription medication such as OxyContin and Dilaudid fetch a higher price.

An $80,000 federal grant made the safety check possible on Monday.

"It’s some of the Stone Garden Homeland Security money,"
Smith said. "What we are doing, we’re just doing an overall check. We’re looking for anything suspicious from illegal aliens, drug trafficking and safety checks."

On Monday, perimeters were set up east and west on Route 9. Sheriff’s vehicles were parked on the side of the road, blue lights flashing. Deputies in bright orange safety vests were in the middle of the road, stopping traffic.

Most people stopped immediately, although one woman kept driving. Maine State Police and a sheriff’s deputy pursued her and found she had an invalid sticker and no motor vehicle insurance. She didn’t get to drive home.

For those people who did stop, deputies ran through a checklist of headlights and turn signals, as well as other safety features on their cars.

Anything out of the ordinary went to a secondary checkpoint â€" the parking lot at the rest stop where MDEA agents and K-9 units from the Rockport Police Department, U.S. Customs and Maine State Police were waiting.

Immediately upon stopping, drivers were asked to produce a valid license and registration. If anything out of the ordinary appeared, the car was turned over to a dog and its handler.

One man was on probation for sexual abuse of a minor; he was checked. A woman on probation also had her car thoroughly inspected.

The dogs, trained to sit when they score a scent, sat on several occasions. Then it was into the car, where the dogs â€" their noses working overtime â€" sniffed under the seats and in glove compartments.

Danielle Littlehale of the Rockport Police Department said her dog Boomer has been trained to sniff out seven drugs. While on the search, the dog had to bypass a small cooler full of food. Littlehale said the dogs have been trained to ignore food.

One woman was driving while her license was under suspension. She also had a prescription for a drug, but it was not in a legal prescription bottle.

Police searched her car and found a locked box â€" inside were her methadone doses for the week. Police said she’d been on methadone for four years. She was later arrested for having a drug without a prescription.

Another woman also was stopped for a vehicle infraction and had a locked box full of methadone doses. Since she was not carrying anything illegal, she was allowed to leave.

Among the many serious moments, there was some humor. A man and woman were ordered to secondary inspection â€" it turned out the couple were salespeople for a pharmaceutical company and they had a trunk full of drugs. The police let them go after checking their story.

Deputy Travis Willey of the Sheriff’s department did field sobriety tests on two people. They both passed, but for a few minutes, it looked as though one of them might not be able to walk the imaginary line. Willey said the man was clearly nervous.

"I explained to the gentleman that it’s not against the law in the state of Maine to operate a motor vehicle with prescription medications. However if those prescription medications impair the safe operation of that motor vehicle, it is illegal. It is operating under the influence just like alcohol and anything else," Willey said.

A woman who was stopped had a handgun under her seat; she had a permit.

A man was stopped and summoned for having a usable amount of marijuana. He told the police officer he didn’t know how it got in his car.

One man was pulled over and gave deputies his name and address. A check revealed he was using someone else’s identity. When they asked him again, he gave police another phony name. He was taken directly to jail.

At the end of the six-hour checkpoint Monday, a Nova Scotia man flashed a police badge and identity card from Massachusetts.

He said he had worked for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department in Massachusetts in 1992. The deputies called Massachusetts; they had no record of him. The man was handcuffed and charged with impersonating a public official.

And for those who were booked and bailed, it was one-stop shopping.

The Sheriff’s Department had a van at the scene. Inside were corrections officers who were fingerprinting those who had been charged and taking mug shots.

Also inside was Bob Whitman, bail commissioner for Washington County. He was writing bail tickets and collecting the money.
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That is just plain wrong.

"Comrad, I neeeeed to check yourrrrrr papersssssss."
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