There is not much visible crime in the suburbs. No street corners filled with drug dealers or significant numbers of drive by shootings. So, the police do need other diversions. And since traffic control is typically a high priority for many residents, local suburban police may make such patrols a priority for the department.
Federal funding is also helpful, as it was for Lino Lakes, which used funds to create a dedicated traffic control-DWI position. The officer who has handled the job has been very busy, and about two months, he has made 535 traffic stops, which was “two more than the rest of the 25-officer department combined made in the same period.”
Even with that prodigious number, only 4 percent of his stops, or 22 drivers, resulted in possible drunk driving arrests. The police chief noted that traffic stops do more than stop speeder and drunk drivers, noting, “How do you think you catch murderers or rapists?”
Ironically, the for all of the vaunted investigative techniques law enforcement possesses, the lowly traffic stop does produce a surprising number of arrests related to serious crimes, the most famous being, perhaps, Timothy McViegh, who was arrested after blowing up the federal building in Oklahoma City, for a missing license plate on his vehicle.
On the other hand, we could solve a lot more crimes if we allowed the police the ability to stop everyone anytime. They cannot do that, however, because that would force them to become lawbreakers.
They wouldn’t be breaking some city speed limit ordinance, they would be violating the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. For all the positive rhetoric from police, many traffic stops remain questionable, often verging on pretext.
And any traffic stop should always be examined for potential Fourth Amendment violations.
Source: startribune.com, “Lino Lakes officer makes 535 traffic stops in 2 months,” Shannon Prather, September 2, 2015