Checkpoints set up by Washington, D.C., in neighborhoods beset by violence are unconstitutional, ruled the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The decision effectively ends a crime-fighting tactic that officials say was used in only the most dire circumstances to protect residents, reports the Washington Post. The court condemned the roadblocks, which police used last summer in the city’s Trinidad neighborhood. The checkpoints, which have not been used in about a year, were a response to several shootings, including a triple homicide.
“It cannot be gainsaid that citizens have a right to drive upon the public streets of the District of Columbia or any other city absent a constitutionally sound reason for limiting their access,” Chief Judge David Sentelle wrote for a three-judge panel. With homicides and other crimes on the decline, the city has no plans to set up more roadblocks. D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said that officers would work to find a “more creative way to deal with very unusual circumstances that is consistent with the Fourth Amendment,” which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.