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D.C. quietly folds up police checkpoint program

Remember all the controversy over military-style checkpoints in the District neighborhood of Trinidad?

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier set up roadblocks there in the summer of 2008 in an effort to combat crime in the Northeast neighborhood. Residents, frustrated that they could not drive down the block in their own neighborhood sued with the help of the nonprofit Partnership for Civil Justice.

They initially lost, but then the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled this summer that the checkpoints, known as the Neighborhood Safety Zone program, were unconstitutional, handing a legal victory to the nonprofit and residents.

At the time, Lanier and D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles defended the program as an effective crime-fighting tool and said the city would consider whether to appeal to the full appellate court or the Supreme Court. In other words, the District was not giving up the legal fight.

But now they have. D.C. Solicitor General Todd S. Kim submitted papers to the court on Monday indicating that the city would no longer pursue further legal action. "The Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department has directed the rescission of the special order authorizing the Neighborhood Safety Zone program at issue in this appeal," Kim wrote.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, attorney and co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice, said she hoped this meant "an end to this chapter of police activity in the District of Columbia."

--Theola Labbé-DeBose

By Theola Labbé-DeBose  |  November 18, 2009; 10:27 AM ET
Categories:  Cathy L. Lanier , From the Courthouse , The District , Theola Labbé-DeBose  
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I'm still shaking my head trying to figure out what in the hell made them think this was legal in the first place? Blocking innocent people from driving into a neighborhood unless they could explain their reasons to the police?!! Get the hell out of here! This isn't North Korea. Or is it?

Posted by: PepperDr | November 18, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure that the majority of people in the neighborhood would rather be checked by police than shot at by gang-bangers. I certainly would.

However, the Parnership for Civil Justice has to have a raison detre.


Posted by: wobbleman47 | November 18, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

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