Boulder City, Nevada - Suspicionless "Public Safety" Checkpoints
A growing threat to individual liberty


"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall NOT be violated..."

This page highlights information regarding suspicionless checkpoints being conducted by the Boulder City Police Department. Last year, due to the efforts of a concerned individual, it was discovered the police department had been conducting checkpoints for over three years absent written departmental guidelines or reasonable limitations on the discretion of on-scene officers. Given that SCOTUS has ruled suspicionless 'public safety' checkpoints must be premised upon written guidelines clearly defining the scope of roadblock operations while limiting the discretion of on-scene officers, it was clear the police department had been conducting checkpoints illegally during the time frame in question.

When the deficiency was brought to the attention of the city, the checkpoints were temporarily halted for close to a year while guidelines were developed. Unfortunately, the new guidelines do little to protect the traveling public from overzealous police officers using 'public safety' as a front for suspicionless general crime control roadblocks. If this wasn't bad enough, the flash video below, along with this explanatory letter to city officials, make it clear Boulder City police officers aren't even following their own written guidelines or applicable city ordinances:

While the Boulder City Police Department has seen fit to only emphasize the child safety aspect of these standardless checkpoints to the press and general public, it's readily apparent from the written guidelines that the scope of checkpoint operations is indistinguishable from general crime control interests. Specifically, the guidelines define the scope of such roadblock operations to include the following:

  • Thwarting imminent terrorist attacks
  • Apprehending fleeing fugitives
  • Papers please ID/documentation checks
  • Sobriety checks
  • Child safety seat inspections

Additionally, Boulder City police are physically entering stopped vehicles containing child safety seats and conducting searches/inspections absent reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. Police also force interaction with them at the stop in order to subjectively determine whether or not any particular driver is impaired. Given that the Supreme Court has only carved out fourth amendment loopholes for suspicionless sobriety or immigration checkpoint stops (as opposed to searches) while explicitly striking down general law enforcement checkpoints, its clear the Boulder City police department has stepped well outside reasonable boundaries.

Suspicionless sobriety checkpoints could only be justified by the Supreme Court because of the immediate public safety concerns associated with impaired drivers putting other drivers at risk. Yet in this case, there's no immediate public safety issue associated with the improper installation of a child safety seat - the primary justification offered to the public for this checkpoint program. Unlike drunk drivers, the drivers of vehicles with improperly installed child safety seats are not impaired in their ability to drive and pose no threat to the traveling public.

Similarly, apprehending fleeing fugitives, thwarting terrorist attacks, and demands for ID at suspicionless checkpoints (as opposed to checkpoints based upon credible knowledge of an imminent lawless act) constitute general law enforcement purposes that should not be suffered by a free people. Even SCOTUS qualified previous checkpoint rulings as follows:

"Petitioners argue that the Indianapolis checkpoint program is justified by its lawful secondary purposes of keeping impaired motorists off the road and verifying licenses and registrations. If this were the case, however, law enforcement authorities would be able to establish checkpoints for virtually any purpose so long as they also included a license or sobriety check. For this reason, we examine the available evidence to determine the primary purpose of the checkpoint program."


"Because the primary purpose of the Indianapolis checkpoint program is ultimately indistinguishable from the general interest in crime control, the checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is accordingly affirmed." - Indianapolis v. Edmund

"The principal protection of Fourth Amendment rights at checkpoints lies in appropriate limitations on the scope of the stop. We have held that checkpoint searches are constitutional only if justified by consent or probable cause to search." - United States v. Martinez-Fuerte

The Boulder City Police Department needs to get back into the business of protecting the public from known/suspected criminals instead of conducting fishing expeditions against the public via suspicionless checkpoints.

Additional information regarding this topic can be found below and general information regarding other forms of suspicionless checkpoints can be found here.

Boulder City checkpoint guidelines make it clear the full scope of these law enforcement operations far exceed reasonable boundaries. The stated purpose of these roadblocks include the following: thwarting imminent terrorist attacks, apprehending fleeing fugitives, papers please documentation checks, sobriety checks, safety seat inspections,
After learning about the standardless suspicionless checkpoints being conducted by Boulder City Police, a concerned resident voiced his opposition to the invasive enforcement practice to  city officials

After bringing attention to deficiencies in Boulder City's suspicionless checkpoint program, the city indicates the program is under review and admits many drivers have expressed concern over the checkpoint program.
Boulder City News
After the lack of checkpoint guidelines became publicly known, the city temporarily halted checkpoint operations for close to a year. Unfortunately, the guidelines finally implemented earlier this year, fail to limit the scope of checkpoint operations and still allow broad discretion for on-scene officers.
Franks Page
Taking advantage of a fourth amendment loophole created by the Supreme Court for sobriety checkpoints, Boulder City, Nevada recently began conducting suspicionless car seat checkpoints on an unsuspecting traveling public.
Boulder City News
The first check for 2007 occurred April 19 at the usual checkpoint -- in the high school parking lot off Avenue B across from Andrew Mitchell Elementary School
Boulder City View