Federal appeals Judges slam Florida cops for SWAT raids to check Barber Licenses

Oldgamer

Diamond Member
Jan 15, 2013
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I just .. I dunno.. wtf? To check barbers licenses??

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Today a federal appeals court rebuked police in Orange County, Florida, for mounting a warrantless, SWAT-style raid on a barbership under the pretense of assisting state inspectors. "We have twice held, on facts disturbingly similar to those presented here, that a criminal raid executed under the guise of an administrative inspection is constitutionally unreasonable," says the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. "We hope that the third time will be the charm."

On August 19, 2010, two inspectors from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) visited the Strictly Skillz Barbershop in Orlando and found everything in order: All of the barbers working there were properly licensed, and all of the work stations complied with state regulations. Two days later, even though no violations had been discovered and even though the DBPR is authorized to conduct such inspections only once every two years, the inspectors called again, this time accompanied by "between eight and ten officers, including narcotics agents," who "rushed into" the barbershop "like [a] SWAT team." Some of them wore masks and bulletproof vests and had their guns drawn. Meanwhile, police cars blocked off the parking lot.

The officers ordered all the customers to leave, announcing that the shop was "closed down indefinitely." They handcuffed the owner, Brian Berry, and two barbers who rented chairs from him, then proceeded to search the work stations and a storage room. They demanded the barbers' driver's licenses and checked for outstanding warrants. One of the inspectors, Amanda Fields, asked for the same paperwork she had seen two days earlier, going through the motions of verifying (again) that the barbers were not cutting hair without a license (a second-degree misdemeanor). Finding no regulatory violations or contraband, the officers released Berry and the others after about an hour.

Although ostensibly justified as a regulatory inspection, the raid on Strictly Skillz, like similar sweeps of other barbershops that same day, was part of an operation hatched by Fields and Cpl. Keith Vidler of the Orange County Sheriff's Office (OCSO), who hoped to find drugs, "gather intelligence," and "interview potential confidential informants." The barbershops chosen for the sweeps "were apparently selected because they or barbers within them had on previous occasions failed to cooperate with DBPR inspectors," the court says. "All of the targeted barbershops were businesses that serviced primarily African-American and Hispanic clientele."

The 11th Circuit concludes that the Strictly Skillz raid, as described by Berry and the other plaintiffs, was "clearly established to be illegal from its inception," violating state law as well as the Fourth Amendment. "The facts of this case—when viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs—adequately establish that the 'inspection' of Strictly Skillz amounted to an unconstitutional search," the court says, "and that the unconstitutionality of such a search was clearly established at the time that the search was executed." Hence a federal judge was right to rule that Vidler and Deputy Travis Leslie do not deserve qualified immunity.

At this stage of the case, where Vidler and Leslie are trying to get the lawsuit dismissed based on the qualified immunity enjoyed by officers who do not blatantly disregard well-established constitutional law, judges are supposed to assume that the plaintiffs can prove the facts they allege. But there seems to be little real dispute about what the cops did that day; the exact number of officers involved, for example, is not going to be crucial in judging whether the search was legal.

"The August 21 search was executed with a tremendous and disproportionate show of force, and no evidence exists that such force was justified," the court says. "Despite the fact that neither OCSO nor the DBPR had any reason to believe that the inspection of Strictly Skillz posed a threat to officer safety, the record indicates that several OCSO officers entered the barbershop wearing masks and bulletproof vests, and with guns drawn; surrounded the building and blocked all of the exits; forced all of the children and other customers to leave; announced that the business was 'closed down indefinitely'; and handcuffed and conducted pat-down searches of the employees while the officers searched the premises. Such a search, which bears no resemblance to a routine inspection for barbering licenses, is certainly not reasonable in scope and execution....The show of force and search were all the more unreasonable in view of the fact that DBPR inspectors visited Strictly Skillz a mere two days before the search and had already determined that the barbershop and its employees were in compliance with state regulations."

Radley Balko noted the Florida barbershop raids, along with other examples of criminal searches disguised as regulatory inspections, back in 2010.

News Link
 

BoberFett

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
37,563
9
81
Wannabe tough guys without enough to do. I get tired of hearing about how awful it is that budget cuts are responsible for taking cops off the streets. Good! Get those fuckers off the streets! We'll be safer.
 

Oldgamer

Diamond Member
Jan 15, 2013
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I seem to recall the news media reporting that all these police departments that acquire all this military gear and tanks etc. have to utilize this equipment in order to keep it or something like that. In addition I seem to remember they said they can bill the city or state big bucks every time they use their SWAT team and do these types of raids. So there is obviously monetary incentive to doing this even for things like checking a Barbers License. I however commend the Federal Judges for giving the cops what for over this and handling the case the way they did. Lawsuits abound, and I guess will continue to do so when cops do absolutely absurd stuff like this.
 

Pulsar

Diamond Member
Mar 3, 2003
5,225
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Great - so the police infringed our rights. What's the penalty? Is the guy who ordered this idiocy going to be fined? Fired? What?
 

Greenman

Lifer
Oct 15, 1999
19,901
4,756
136
Great - so the police infringed our rights. What's the penalty? Is the guy who ordered this idiocy going to be fined? Fired? What?

My guess would be promoted to a job with better pay and more time off. Perhaps early retirement with a full pension.
 

werepossum

Elite Member
Jul 10, 2006
29,873
463
126
Sweet Lord, saving us from the horrors of unlicensed barbers. Shit, even the Nazis could check your papers without closing your shop.

My guess would be promoted to a job with better pay and more time off. Perhaps early retirement with a full pension.
At the very most, his penalty will be a paid vacation, but yeah, screw up move up seems to be the rule.

"I initiated SWAT raids and searches on the pretext on looking for unlicensed barbers."

"Sweet. That's exactly the kind of self-starter we need in charge of, um, whatever we're supposed to be doing here. Here, have a grenade launcher."
 

Oldgamer

Diamond Member
Jan 15, 2013
3,280
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Well according to this article this is the real reason they did this:

"like similar sweeps of other barbershops that same day, was part of an operation hatched by Fields and Cpl. Keith Vidler of the Orange County Sheriff's Office (OCSO), who hoped to find drugs, "gather intelligence," and "interview potential confidential informants." The barbershops chosen for the sweeps "were apparently selected because they or barbers within them had on previous occasions failed to cooperate with DBPR inspectors," the court says. "All of the targeted barbershops were businesses that serviced primarily African-American and Hispanic clientele."


The War on Drugs looking for new ways to find drugs I guess..sigh

"The 11th Circuit concludes that the Strictly Skillz raid, as described by Berry and the other plaintiffs, was "clearly established to be illegal from its inception," violating state law as well as the Fourth Amendment.

Hence a federal judge was right to rule that Vidler and Deputy Travis Leslie do not deserve qualified immunity.

So it looks like no firings will take place nor is anyone going to be held accountable by any authority or official persons. However, the federal judges in the appeals court have said that these officers can be sued personally.

Sooo.. I guess they will go after the officers and the police department for big bucks.. yet again citizens paying for this nonsense out of their taxes.
 

DrPizza

Administrator Elite Member Goat Whisperer
Administrator
Mar 5, 2001
49,606
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www.slatebrookfarm.com
No one read the article in the OP yet?

Hence a federal judge was right to rule that Vidler and Deputy Travis Leslie do not deserve qualified immunity.

I'm no lawyer, but it appears that it means that the two of them can be personally sued. That is, they are not immune from a lawsuit.
 

brycejones

Lifer
Oct 18, 2005
25,231
22,349
136
I'm no lawyer, but it appears that it means that the two of them can be personally sued. That is, they are not immune from a lawsuit.

Yeah seems like these boys are personally on the hook, which I don't have a problem with this case is pretty egregious.
 

waggy

No Lifer
Dec 14, 2000
68,145
10
81
WTF a swat team was needed to check barbers?

and people are still for giving police this equipment?
 

Jhhnn

IN MEMORIAM
Nov 11, 1999
62,365
14,680
136
I'm trying to figure out how a corporal(!) commands all that police power.
 

Nebor

Lifer
Jun 24, 2003
29,582
11
76
Having a Z in the name of your barbershop establishes probable cause for a search for narcotics.
 

Pipeline 1010

Golden Member
Dec 2, 2005
1,896
698
136
I'm no lawyer, but it appears that it means that the two of them can be personally sued. That is, they are not immune from a lawsuit.

They can and will be personally sued but they will never pay a dime. You and I will pay the settlement for them. We're nice like that. And tyrannically forced to like that.

Until you can sue cops for their own personal money, homes, and belongings just like you can sue non-cops for those things, nothing will change.
 

Pipeline 1010

Golden Member
Dec 2, 2005
1,896
698
136
If barbers' licenses are granted by the state, might there be some kind of electronic records storage thingy where the licenses can be checked using an electronic device of computing? Might they call it a base of data? Perhaps a data base even? It could be a place where cops could go to do an "electronic search" to see if the barber has a license. What a tremendous idea! I shall develop this base of data and market it to the state to make untold fortune! Then the cops could conduct an "electronic search" using a com-pu-tore and find out who the bad guys are! If that doesn't satisfy their need to dress up all tacticool and curse at people, maybe they could dress up in their super-tough-to-detect-in-a-city camo gear and wear that while performing their "electronic search". They could cuss at the com-pu-tore while conducting their search.

Or, if such technology is still several generations beyond our current technological capabilities, could the cops have simply gone to the barber and looked at the printed copy of the license? They could even do it undercover and go to the barber for an actual hair cut out of uniform. Unless maybe barber shops are so dangerous that a swat team must accompany every cop who gets a haircut anywhere.
 

Pipeline 1010

Golden Member
Dec 2, 2005
1,896
698
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Are the BOSTON POLICE uniforms worn in attempt to induce even greater amounts of anger in people around them?

That's it! The smoking gun! Cops are innocent in this case because wrong picture! Fine work, detective. I smell a promotion in your future.

After all, anger at evil police tactics is the worst and also bad.
 

Pipeline 1010

Golden Member
Dec 2, 2005
1,896
698
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They could even do it undercover and go to the barber for an actual hair cut out of uniform.

I just thought of the ultimate super secret way to check the barber's license. The cop could dress in their camo gear and SNEAK IN UNDETECTED! (remember to tiptoe, justice warriors!) Then they could go to the license posted on the wall and look at it. Cops, you can use my idea royalty free. Vicious criminal barbers, your days are numbered.
 

piasabird

Lifer
Feb 6, 2002
17,168
60
91
In todays age it should be easy to print a fake barbers license. However, how long does it take to double check this 5 minutes? I wonder what they would do if the person was an illegal immigrant? Arent we suppose to just let them go? So the article said they were targeting primarily black and Hispanic barber shops. That must be half of Miami.

Maybe they should just send all the cops one at a time in to get their hair cut. That way they would have cops there all the time. What a radical Idea. Have them park their cruiser in front of the barbershop so they know the cops are inside. That should scare most bad guys away. You can use my idea for free.