It's easy for law enforcement to overreach their powers in their efforts to stop crime. As the police use ever-more-intrusive methods for tracking people, they often raise the argument that the innocent people caught up in their dragnets have nothing to fear.
At the border and in international airports, ICE and the Customs and Border Protection service have been routinely rifling through people's computers and smart phones. Away from the border, law enforcement needs a warrant before it can search your phone or another electronic device. So why have border agents assumed they didn't need one?
New York City is infamous for its "stop-and-frisk" policy, which allowed officers to perform a pat-down search on anyone they suspected of carrying a firearm. This resulted in tens of thousands of innocent people, the vast majority of whom were African-American or Latino, being stopped, frisked, and given an arrest record despite having done nothing wrong.
You have a right to withhold your consent when police ask to search your clothing, home, car or belongings, although many people don't realize it.
Last September, the then-attorney general announced that people with two or more convictions for sex offenses would be required to wear GPS monitors for life. He ordered 180 people to get fitted for GPS bracelets within 5 days.
If the police have a warrant to search your home, you have to let them in. A warrant is a court order requiring you to stand aside and let them perform the search described.
Imagine you're out on a freezing January evening in Milwaukee. You stop at a liquor store, momentarily parking your car while you run inside. Unfortunately, you park less than 15 feet from an unmarked crosswalk.
In 2015, Abdisalam Wilwal, Sagal Abdigani, and their four young children were heading home after visiting Canadian relatives when they stopped at the Portal, North Dakota, border station. They are both U.S. citizens and married. Shortly after handing over their papers, they were confronted by armed and aggressive Customs and Border Protection officers. Mr. Wilwal was handcuffed in front of his frightened, crying children.
Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin and a law firm filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Milwaukee Police department of operating a "vast and unconstitutional stop-and-frisk program" that targeted African-Americans and Latinos. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of six plaintiffs who had been stopped, sometimes multiple times, by officers with no reasonable suspicion that they were involved in criminal behavior.
If the police want to track you through your cellphone's location history, should they have to get a warrant?