This video shows one of the escape routes for a roadblock tonight and Saturday near the Regions bank in Soddy-Daisy. (Photo David Tulis)
Update. The city will run its roadblock tonight under the Highway 27 overpass in rainy weather 10 p.m. to midnight. DT
Our earlier story: Soddy Daisy will be running police roadblocks tonight and Saturday as part of a campaign to prevent drivers and travelers from being inebriated while behind the wheel of their cars or truck.
The department posted on Facebook page its intentions pursuant to rules laid down in the Tennessee high court’s two roadblock opinions, Downey (1997) and Hicks (2001).
By David Tulis / Noogaradio 1240 AM 92.7 FM
The notice on Facebook, like that published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, indicates that the place on Dayton Boulevard where the roadblock will be placed.
Soddy-Daisy has been scrupulous in the operation of roadblocks, respecting travelers and innocent citizens on the public right of way less than the Tennessee constitution requires, but within the effective “soft law” of the high court’s opinions that permit roadblocks if some care is given to avoid frightening the innocent traveling public or abusing them.
The rule for publication of roadblock details and the warning signs “Roadblock ahead” let innocent motorists and travelers avoid the police encounter, and thus preserve their constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable and unwarranted searches and seizures. Most travelers observed at the most recent Soddy-Daisy roadblock took the encounters in a friendly manner. The city has not caught any inebriated drivers, Chief Jeff Gann said.
In its notice Thursday on Facebook, the department says:
We will be running extra patrol Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday designated for traffic concerns and issues. This is our message to let not only our great community know but any and all visitors that we are concerned about traffic safety. We want this to be a time of celebration, not devastation. Make smart choices this holiday weekend!
We will be conducting sobriety checkpoints in the 11200-12000 block of Dayton Pike between the hours of 10pm & 12am both Friday & Saturday. Buckle up!!
The roadblock’s purpose is narrow, as required by the court. It is organized not in the field by officers’ whim, but by police department management, Chief Philip Hamrick (back from the Mideast and recovering from surgery) and acting chief Gann.
Catching drunken drivers is the purpose. Thus officers do not have authority to demand that anyone show a driver license, as many people do not have driver licenses (being outside of commerce) or have driver licenses that are either suspended, revoked or expired.
Beyond two nights of roadblocks from 10 to midnight, officer Jerry Workman said, the city is stepping up patrols. Those officers who desire overtime pay — thanks to grant money from Nashville — will be invited to take part in extra patrols. Mr. Workman said the department does not have fewer than four cruisers on the road in the town of 11,000 people, and that the overtime invite might bring out two or three extra officers.
The published location of the roadblock extends from roughly the Kangaroo gas station on Hixson Pike to Old Dayton Pike on the far side of the Highway 27 overpass, under which the roadblock crew will stay dry if it rains, Chief Gann said.
“We posted it on social media to make the public aware —and I notice the post on social media has been shared over 200 times — so, and then also, we will have signs on the road prior to a road of escape or a road of an alternate to be able to avoid the said sobriety checkpoint. Then we will have officers — there’ll be blue lights activated on the vehicles , officers will be with green reflective vests, and they will be with flashlights with red reflective cones, making the public awae as the driver approaches.
“If the driver chooses to enter into the designated sobriety checkpoint, at that point all we’re checking is to see is if the driver is impaired, just more or less in conversation, detecting an odor, or detecting any type of slurred speech, or anything that may appear that that driver may be inebriated, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. And that’s when we will actually move the vehicle of the shoulder to the road to investigate further.”
As for constitutional rights, “We believe in ’em,” Chief Gann says. “We uphold them. This is not a department that’s looking to violate rights. We are here to protect the people. And thatÆs what we stand for.”
Sources: State v. Downey, 945 S.W.2d 102 (Tenn. 1997), State v. Larry Allen Hicks, 55 S.W.3d 515 (Tenn. 2001)