37 minors charged for alcohol

Published 12:31 am Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Weekend traffic checkpoint nets 47 arrests

A weekend River Falls Police Department traffic security checkpoint on Alabama Hwy. 55, resulted in the arrests of 47 people, 37 of whom were charged as minors in possession and consumption of alcohol.

River Falls Police Department Chief Cody Warren said  safety checkpoints are important because they show a presence.

“I think that it shows a presence that officers are out there checking for different traffic violations,” Warren said. “That way it slows people down and makes them think, because our traffic picks up, not necessarily spring breakers, but people just going to the beach. Between March and September, it is probably 50 times more than when it isn’t that time. It is really important to also recognize the people that are doing right by thanking them for driving with a proper license and registration and wearing your seat belt and all of that.”

The arrests sparked criticism of the department on social media, complete with claims that the department was violating individuals’ Fourth Amendment rights.

But  Warren said that is not the case.

“It is a violation of your Fourth Amendment right if we were to say that it was strictly a narcotics checkpoint,” Warren said. “Or if I said that I am doing a checkpoint to only bust underage kids driving down here with alcohol. If we were specifically saying that is what we are looking for then that is a violation. If these people posting on Facebook would do a little research, they would find that the Supreme Court ruled that this is perfectly legal, as long as we have a written plan ahead of time and if we stop every car.”

Warren said that they aren’t pulling kids out of cars and searching their vehicles for alcohol.

“If they pull up and I ask them, ‘Hey, do you have alcohol in the vehicle,’ and they say, ‘Yes sir, it’s right there in the back,’ and they’re 18, I mean, we have to arrest them,” Warren said. “Or they’ll pull up and you can smell marijuana, it’s like they don’t even try to hide it. With the spring breakers, they think that they can come down here and they have seen on T.V. all of these places where the beach is a party area and they can go down there and do whatever they want. It’s not like that.”

Warren said he wants to make sure that people know that they are out there.

“We just want to make sure that people are driving and doing what they are supposed to be doing,” Warren said. “By all means, we appreciate the business and the traffic coming through. We are not trying to make business go around Andalusia and River Falls, but we also don’t want people coming through acting a fool or having wrecks and that kind of stuff. It’s not just out of town people that come through these things either, I mean, a lot of the people are locals.”

With the spring break weeks and warm weather approaching, Warren wants to make sure that citizens are obeying traffic laws and slowing down.

“Slow down and make sure you wear your seat belt,” Warren said. “Another big thing is making sure that you are paying attention to other drivers. You could be following all of the rules and driving great, but somebody else may not be, so you need to be defensive.”

Participating in this detail were The River Falls Police Department, Red Level Police Department, Covington County Sheriff’s Office, ALEA (Alabama State Troopers), Gantt Police Department, Covington County Sheriff’s Reserves, Covington County Sheriff’s Posse.