Saturday, April 26, 2008

Checkpoint guidelines

SEARCHES, seizures and arrests in checkpoints shall be done with civility and with due respect to innocent passersby, commuters or bystanders.

Top “Mamang Pulis,” Director General Avelino I. Razon Jr. said this is just among the guidelines to be followed by his men at checkpoints, as he stressed that the “plain view” doctrine must be followed up at all times.

Under Police Operational Procedures (POP), the establishment of permanent checkpoints must always be authorized by the PNP and manned by uniformed personnel.

The guidelines state that checkpoints may be established when there is a need to arrest a criminal or fugitive from justice. Only mobile checkpoints are authorized and they shall be established only in conjunction with ongoing operations. Only official and marked vehicles shall be used in establishing such road blocks.

Enforcement officers manning the checkpoints shall be in proper uniform at all times with their identification cards and nameplates on; and shall always be led by an officer with the rank of police inspector at least. They shall not mulct, extort or harass drivers, passengers, traders, among others.

In the event that checkpoints/roadblocks are ignored and the motorists/suspects attempt to avoid inspection, the team leader shall immediately contact adjacent units to inform them of the situation and immediately conduct dragnet operations, while those at the checkpoint shall pursue the errant fleeing motorists;

Warning shots shall be discouraged. Megaphones or police sirens shall be used instead during the pursuit.

The plate number of the vehicle shall be noted and given to other units in adjacent areas. In the event that the occupants of the vehicle open fire on the personnel manning the checkpoint, reasonable force to overcome the suspect’s aggression may be employed.

Section 4 of the POP also states that “searches made at check or choke points shall be limited to visual search and neither the vehicle nor the occupants shall be subjected to physical search. An extensive search may be allowed only if the officers conducting the search have probable cause to believe that they would find evidence pertaining to the commission of a crime in the vehicle to be searched and there is no sufficient time to secure a valid warrant.”

Last week, National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Geary L. Barias ordered the investigation of some Manila officers who allegedly conducted an illegal checkpoint near Manila Zoo and terrorized a Filipino-Chinese businessman.

Manila cops reportedly ordered the trader’s driver to open the four doors before thoroughly searching the vehicle. They were allowed to go when the search yielded negative results.

Manila Police District director Chief Supt. Roberto L. Rosales said that through their hi-tech Global Position System (GPS) devices, they have identified six crewmen of three prowl cars who were involved in the incident.

(The PNP urges victims of crime and rogue officers to send their complaints through Isumbong Mo Kay Tsip at 0917-8475757, the Anti-Kotong Text 0927-5151515; PNP TXT 2920, DILG Patrol 117 or e-mail to or By: Alfred P. Dalizon - Journal online

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