LJWorld.com weblogs The Lawrence Crime Blotter

Police checkpoint near Wakarusa causing a stir


A police check lane that appeared yesterday near the Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival is expected to continue throughout the day today and through Thursday afternoon, as an estimated 15,000 revelers pour into town for the four-day festival.It's an aggressive anti-drug effort that police say is to promote safety- but that festival promoter Brett Mosiman this morning called "a big overreaction.""We create this amazing festival and we sell tickets in all 50 states, and the second everybody gets here, they get met by a police state," he said. The check lane, funded in part by a federal anti-drug-trafficking grant, appeared yesterday afternoon at the interchange of Interstate 70 and Kansas Highway 10 about three miles from the festival's entrance. In conjunction with the check lane, police agencies from Franklin, Johnson and Douglas counties will be conducting a "saturation patrol" in coming days along U.S. Highway 59 and Kansas Highway 10. The U.S. Drug-Enforcement Administration and FBI also are involved in the effort, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.Troopers are stopping as many vehicles as possible as they come off the westbound Turnpike, checking drivers' licenses and registration, and looking for any apparent violations, said Lt. John Eickhorn of the Kansas Highway Patrol. In some cases, a drug dog is being run around cars. People driving through a "K-Tag" lane for drivers with an automated Turnpike pass are not being stopped.In recent weeks, police have said they will have an increased presence at the festival this year because of concerns about illegal drugs. "Our primary objective, of course, is to arrest criminals and intercept illegal substances and contraband before it enters the fairground or festival," Eickhorn said.Promoter Mosiman said he's had a good relationship with law enforcement in the months leading up to the festival and supports their efforts to curb drug dealing. But he said he had no idea the checkpoint was coming. He said he thinks it sends the wrong message to tourists coming from out-of-state to visit Kansas.He said four of his managers have been stopped at the checkpoint, and one was cited for having a cracked windshield."It's like you've got the opposite of the red carpet for our visitors.... Would they consider throwing out that welcome mat for KU homecoming?"The lane is set to continue until 1 a.m. Thursday morning, then to run again from 8 a.m. Thursday until the early afternoon.


BrianR 11 years, 9 months ago

This is crazy talk. So people should be warned to check that all of their light bulbs are operating so they don't get the Welcome to Lawrence Kansas smackdown?

J.H.C. on a stick, use my tax dollars for something worthwhile. If there is one thing I don't give a flying hoot about it's whether kids want to get high and listen to some music. This will do nothing but net some cash for the people who always profit from our drug laws.

unite2revolt 11 years, 9 months ago

Frankly if it wasn't a giant drug swap meet, this really wouldn't be causing much of a stir. Cops across the country do these kind of checkpoints everyday. I expect that the kid who had 20 cartons of ciggerettes ($800.00 worth) in his car was planning on selling/trading them at the festival.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 9 months ago

"one thing I don't give a flying hoot about it's whether kids want to get high"

But, the law prohibits that.

If you want to enforce drug laws, don't you go where the drugs are? You don't have to be a drug sniffing dog to know that the fesitval is a place where drugs will be sold and used.

There is no arguement here: As long as it's illegal to use the drugs, this is good law enforcement. Argue the sensibility of the law, not the sensibility in enforcing a law.

Even Elliot Ness agreed that if they repealed prohibition, he'd belly up for a drink. But until it was legal to drink, he enforced the law.

unite2revolt 11 years, 9 months ago

BTW I think there is probally a pretty big difference in the amount of illegal drugs your average KU alumni has vs the amout that an average Wakarusa Festival attendee posesses.

unite2revolt 11 years, 9 months ago

T_O_B there are 2 other off ramps for getting into Lawrence, and the K Tag lane is not being stopped either. So does stopping aproximately 25% of traffic into Lawrence seem excessive to you as well? Or would you simply prefer that they move the check point so it only stopped people driving to the lake?

craigers 11 years, 9 months ago

unite and Old Enuf, I agree with you both.
this is good law enforcement. It is just like a DUI lane. They set up to prevent problems and catch those that are problems. This festival is not just a music lover's festival, but a festival of people that like music but will get drunk and high at the same time. If the festival didn't have any problems last year then they probably wouldn't have done this lane. The festival owner's will have to deal with people being mad about this.

Keep up the good work officers.

Jeff Croft 11 years, 9 months ago

Why is the K-Tag lane not being stopped? What makes K-Tag subscribers any less likely to have pot their their cash-paying brethren?

Personally, I think stopping every car -- even every car in a particular lane -- is the wrong approach. They're presenting a negative impression of Lawrence to out-of-town visitors, and there's absolutely nothing to suggest that even a quarter of these cars will have drugs in them.

If you want to enforce drug laws, fine. Go to the festival, find people doing/selling drugs, and arrest them. Don't stop people who have done nothing but pay to come into your town in the hope you might catch them ridin' dirty.

Jeff Croft 11 years, 9 months ago

"This festival is not just a music lover's festival, but a festival of people that like music but will get drunk and high at the same time."

Huh? I am going to the festival, and I certainly don't plan to get high, or do anything illegal.

Of course there will be drugs there. That's a given. But it's unfair of you to make the assumption that everyone there will be getting high, just like it's unfair of police to assume the same as people come into town.

billybeanbag 11 years, 9 months ago

Damn... I guess I'd better not go home that way tonight!

craigers 11 years, 9 months ago

sorry, jcroft I didn't mean to assume that. What I meant is what you stated yourself and that drugs will in no doubt be there. It isn't just about the music. It is a time to party. That is what the cops are going for. If the people think they can get away with it, then they will but if cops are going to stop them before they have a chance, then they will think twice before bringing drugs here. I heard that they have already had a couple of busts and one guy even ran away from them and tried to dump his drugs. And yes this came from cops that were there themselves. So don't kid yourself and say this lane is doing no good.

Jeff Croft 11 years, 9 months ago

"K-Taggers are more likely to be local residents."

And local residents are somehow less likley to have drugs? I don't get how the fact that they're local should affect their treatment by the police.

adky 11 years, 9 months ago

Harassment, but that's what you expect from law enforcement here.

I hope they will be setting up similar checks on K-10 every time KU plays a ball game this winter. I've noticed quite a few cracked windshields on those JoCo SUVs recently, and I guess there may be a few DUIs to be had....

Jeff Croft 11 years, 9 months ago


I'm sure it will do some good. I have no doubt they'll make plenty of busts. That's not really the issue. The issue is that they're inconveniencing a whole lot of innocent people along the way -- and a lot of them are out-of-towners who are rolling into Lawrence ready to spend, spend, spend. If they don't have a good experience, they'll never come back.

Like I said, I have no problem with law-breaking fest-goers being arrested. I do have a problem with the tatic. Rather than finding the law-breaking folks and busting them, they're finding everyone and just hoping to find some law-breaking going on.

thomgreen 11 years, 9 months ago

Wow, I happened to be stopped yesterday and I had a cracked windshield, glad I they didn't bother giving me a ticket. Lucked out I guess.

thomgreen 11 years, 9 months ago

Pardon my poor grammar. I added an extra "I" in one of the sentences.

Centrist 11 years, 9 months ago

Aren't there laws against "entrapment" ??

Centrist 11 years, 9 months ago

They should put one of these in my street ............

conservative 11 years, 9 months ago

I think the rationale behind excluding the K-Tag lane is that they are looking for larger shipments of drugs coming into the area. The likelyhood is that these would be coming into Lawrence in cars that do not travel I-70 enough to have K-Tag.

Personally though if you're going to stop the cars I think you should stop them all, just giving what I think is their rationale.

Godot 11 years, 9 months ago

There was (maybe still is) a check lane for wesbound traffic near Farmland on K10; semis have been emptied and searched. Maybe there is more to this than just the festival.

mattb 11 years, 9 months ago

Well the K-Tag thing just helps the local economy. This way, the out of town drug dealers get shut down but the local ones just get that much more business. Brilliant!

hk45 11 years, 9 months ago

Remember last year when someone died from an apparent drug overdose at the Festival and there were several large drug busts. Wow, maybe they are trying to make a difference so someone else does not die. It seems like to me the police are making a stand and trying to keep the drug-dealing and drug-using people out of our community. My hat goes off to them...thank you for helping make this community safer.

compmd 11 years, 9 months ago

Someone didn't read the judge's opinions.

This checkpoint falls under the supreme court's permitted checkpoints under Indianapolis v. Edmond. The purpose of the checkpoint is vehicle safety and DUIs. This is legal under the supreme court's 1990 decision in Michigan State Police v. Sitz. These decisions are not in conflict with each other. So long as drug detection is not the primary reason for the checkpoint, the checkpoint is valid under the fourth amendment.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 9 months ago

If the cops estimate that, say, 25% of all who attend will partake in the sale or usage of illegal drugs or underage drinking, then is it wrong to stop 100% of the cars? I'm just tossing that out as a hypothetical, but from what I've heard, this event IS a bit of a druggie destination. Stopping 100% of the cars may seem excessive, but I really hope that the LJW does a followup story regarding number of arrests, etc. Then we'll have a metric by which we can get a feel for how effective this was.

Stop 1,000 cars. Get two arrests. Not good.

cowboy 11 years, 9 months ago

Im as anti drug as you can probably get but this is just plain wrong. christ america wake up , if Im driving along safely there is no reason I should have to go thru a checkpoint unless Im entering Moscow or Bagdad. While the DCSO basicly gave everyone except the stupid a pass the last few years this is a bit overboard. Patrol the grounds , arrest the guilty but you have little right to do this.

Like on the cops show when the officer asks where are you going , its none of your damn business officer , respectfully !

sanders 11 years, 9 months ago

Centrist -- It is clearly not entrapment, pointless argument.

pooter 11 years, 9 months ago

I wonder how many people will fail to stop at the checkpoint because they are too busy talking on their cellphones.


average 11 years, 9 months ago

So, how are they spotting drugs out of this? Are they running dogs around? Unloading every little thing from everyone's bags? Drugs are, for the most part small, no?

I'm a long-haired male, who has from time to time gone to similar music festivals. I've never used an illegal drug in my life. But, having been harassed enough times, I've no doubt that the M.O. will be to harass people that look like myself. Even the "it smells funny in here" en passant trick is open to harassment. I've heard that on at least five occassions. Funny? I've never smoked tobacco, let alone pot. Nor did my grandma, from whom I bought the car. Not once in the car, as far as I can tell. And then the follow-up questions like "Do you really need to carry $150 dollars around? Have you been selling drugs? We can take this downtown and run tests on it?".

Sigmund 11 years, 9 months ago

Honestly I can't stand the "break any law you don't agree with" attitude here in Lawrence. It seems to breed a "ban anything that annoys you" mentality. How many people have you heard say, "if they ban cell phones I'll just break the law"?

If you feel drugs should be legalized, work to convince people and get the law changed. I think you have alot of sympathy here in Lawrence and around the state. BTW, having a "Honk For Hemp" sign for the last 2 decades just isn't doing the trick. While you're at it don't support the Nanny Laws (smoking, cell, fireworks, etc) no matter how annoying you find the particular activity.

These checkpoints ARE legal and any evidence gathered will be presented at trial against you. Govern yourself accordingly.

Jd Finch 11 years, 9 months ago

This sounds like something straight out of super troopers. Hilarious. Forward thinking local dealers who cached their stock will be able to charge premium prices. Way to support the Kansas economy, coppers!

Steve Jacob 11 years, 9 months ago

Well, if they are driving and high, you got problems. If you have a trunk full of weed they will not look unless you act crazy, look stoned, of tell the cop to go (deleted) himself.

bthom37 11 years, 9 months ago

Sigmund; one of the first rules learned by military officers is 'don't give an order that you know will be disobeyed'. The reason being, it makes it easier for troops to ignore further orders.

The problem with Lawrence and its banning habit is that you create criminals and crime by doing so, by banning activities that you know will happen anyway (anyone here shoot off fireworks last year?). And if you break one ban, it's not as big a deal to break another, no? You're already acting illegally, so why stop?

jayhawks71 11 years, 9 months ago

Sigmund, just because you call something a nanny law and claim that the reason for supporting smoking and cell phone ordinancnes is "annoyance" doesn't make it so.

To the person who said something about "saving lives" based on the fact that someone died at this festival last year from drugs is ridiculous. He chose to do the drug and paid the ultimate price. Government should not be in the business of protecting a person from HIMSELF. I support ordiances that protect my rights from the foolishness of people who choose to infringe on my rights by exercising their freedom; when they don't infringe on my rights, let them puff away.

Godot 11 years, 9 months ago

"The problem with Lawrence and its banning habit is that you create criminals and crime by doing so, by banning activities that you know will happen anyway (anyone here shoot off fireworks last year?). And if you break one ban, it's not as big a deal to break another, no? You're already acting illegally, so why stop?"

Boog, with the help of his friends, has done it. He has reached his goal. In just a short time, he has successfully anarchized Lawrence. By enacting more and more restrictions on the everyday behavior of law abiding citizens, and not enforcing the laws against criminal behavior, he has made everyone in Lawrence disrespect law.

As a lawyer, employed by the state, and as a one-time mayor, he must be proud.

BrianR 11 years, 9 months ago

Obey it because it's the law.

That's right up there with "We do it this way because this is how it's always been done" as one of the weakest things I've ever heard.

Godot 11 years, 9 months ago

HGA wrote: "Go ahead. Keep the tourism dollars where they'll stay. Back home in Paducah."

I'd like to see some study of how many dollars Lawrence gains from this event (other than for Mosiman). Do the folks from Paducah stay in a hotel, eat at a restaurant, buy souvenirs downtown? Or do they camp out and eat food they brought with them, or buy from the vendors (who might or might not be from lawrence), and buy their souvenirs at the venue?

I had the impression, last June, that Lawrence was quiet and subdued while the festival was going on.

oldschool 11 years, 9 months ago

Seems like we've come a long way since Vern Miller used to jump out of trunks at the Big Eat. At least there was some humor in that.

matahari 11 years, 9 months ago

Ohhhh, I can't wait to hear the stories about 'it was entrapment!" I normally would not put anything like this stuff up my butt! Excuses, excuses...gad..no way, I don't think anyone would normally tell or even put anything up their butt and then tell about it.,.so either way, they lose. But, officer I put stuff like this up my butt all the time! So therefore it WAS entrapment!

James Hubin 11 years, 9 months ago

If all the cops are trying to bust music lovers for a couple of joints out at Clinton lake. Who does the job of protecting and serving the people in town? People quickly lose sight of the purpose of having police. I haven't heard of any shootings or stabbings going on out at Wakarusa (however I could be wrong). I have noticed that downtown seems to be much more violent than it used to be.

Someone told me that serious road bikers will sometimes use steroroids. Maybe if we did something like this when all those collegiate bikers came to town a few weeks ago, we could have busted some bigtime roidhead bikers or as I like to call them "speedbumps".

simplifying 11 years, 9 months ago

Is it too late to get an injunction to stop the checkpoint? I guess it would have to be the promoter.

matahari 11 years, 9 months ago

I still wanna know if I have to remove the stuff from my butt to be considered for an entrapment lawsuit...marion? You are the expert!

nekansan 11 years, 9 months ago

My understanding was that in Indianapolis v. Edmond the court also found as further evidence of the constitutionality of vehicle & sobriety checkpoints was that the cars stoped be random. I'd think an attorney would certainly argue that by targeting non KTag users, they were not preforming random searches and instead targeting the festival traffic. If they were targeting festival traffic, it would seem to be evidence that the purpose was drug interdiction, not vehicle safety. This could lead to the arrests being thrown out. Any attorneys/law students care to comment?

greyhawk 11 years, 9 months ago

why dont we just build a round about instead?

kansasjhawk 11 years, 9 months ago

retarded and stupid IMO..a waste of time, and dollars..thank God for the 1st amendment!

anonywoman 11 years, 9 months ago

welcome to police state u.s.a.

guilty until proven innocent

you all should check out aaron russo's new movie FREEDOM TO FASCISM

hopefully it will play at liberty hall soon

nicole 11 years, 9 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Cisco 11 years, 9 months ago

Godot you seem to forget that everyone going to this concert stocked up on food, gas, and liquor in Lawrence before entering the festival grounds, and again as they exit, and I am sure that a % of the $ cut goes to the city of Lawrence, as well as taxes, and taxes on all licensed venders at the festival. So your answer would be, yes, the small small city of Lawrence, KS does indeed benefit greatly from the thousands of music loving party goers, which happened to be contained outside city limits and away from the normal flow of the city.

You must not be too hip to economics. I'm sorry if a few joints get smoked while you watch Wheel of Fortune from your home. I'm sure you'll get by.

alldaydrummer 11 years, 9 months ago

ya I like the idea about the roundabout if you're too stoned to get around it right your car gets checked if you make it out alright you get to party worry free.

Berserk 11 years, 9 months ago

It does pose quite the traffic mess, which would be unnessecary if it was ok to just bring a K9 unit around the cars and pull those ones aside for searching.

As far as the police issue, I don't think there are enough as it is. If there were enough this situation would move along a lot quicker.

The only people that will be totally opposed to this, are those in that picture with the handcuffs on.

sofa_king_cool 11 years, 9 months ago

I think this is the perfect setting for the opening scene of Super Troopers Part II. Im glad that my girl called me and warned me, I was able to take an alternate route.

Cops go where they can arest people, you wont see them at any Star Treck Convention. What do you expect.

gamecat 11 years, 9 months ago

Oh Kansas, your so cute. This is why the country laughs at you.

What's the Matter with Kansas? by Thomas Frank

Read it!

Ryanhdchya 11 years, 9 months ago

Ok, I read a comment, and the person was skeptical on actully how much money the county recieves due to the festival. He was basically saying that if this mess put a big damper on festival goers next year, that it probably wouldnt do much profit loss for the county. YEAH RIGHTTTT!!! Are you serious???

Ok, i'm going to Bonnaroo next weekend. When i ordered my ticket, theres a mandatory 2 dollar fee that goes to Coffee County. Ok, so i'm estimating around 100 thousand people. You do the math.
How about Gas? I'm sure everyone has to get gas atleast once entering or exiting the festival, within the county. - You do the math.
Yes, theres a bunch load of people who use hotels and motels for the festival. Infact, we tried getting a hotel leaving (2 years ago) b/c we were so beat, and they ALL were booked within a 50 mile radius of the festival. And the miles of residential roads that the goers use; the residence sell water, land to park on, food etc. So yes, it would be a HUGE damper on the county if this hurt the festival, which i think will truely do. Thats my two sence.

sarah2mediate 11 years, 9 months ago

I believe we should have respect for law enforcement, however drug checkpoints are unconstitutional and illegal. There are only two doctrines that allow a police officer to search your vehicle. The first is called Open View Doctine, which means the officer walks up to your vehicle and sees contraband in open view in your vehicle. This gives the officer the right to search your vehicle.

The other is called Plain View Doctrine, which means an officer is already in your car and sees contraband. Of course this can only happen if you invite them to search your vehicle which kind of defeats the entire purpose.

The constitution already ruled on drug checkpoints and found them unconstitutional. The only way it becomes legal is if they ask you and you say yes, which is what most of these people coming into Lawrence did.

The next time you get stopped and an officer wants to search your vehicle, politely ask him or her what their probable cause is that gives them permission to search your vehicle. Tell them you are protecting your fourth amendment constitutional rights which addresses search and siezure.

If we don't want to become one giant police state we must work together to protect our rights. The worst that will happen is the officer will have to get a search warrant and without probable cause there are very few judges dumb enough to issue a warrant.

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