What is Criminal Interdiction?

What is Criminal Interdiction?

Generally speaking, criminal interdiction means the act of intercepting criminals and criminal activity while in transit either by air, sea or land.  Over the last twenty years, criminal interdiction has become an integral part of law enforcement activities at the national, state and local levels.  In many localities criminal interdiction efforts center around highway and interstate criminal drug interdiction.  In Iowa, the Iowa State Patrol maintains two specially trained criminal interdiction teams; one in the western half of the State and one in the eastern half of the State.  Several counties and municipalities also have specially trained interdiction teams or individual officer interdictors.  Iowa’s interdiction officers receive their training by attending various interdiction “schools”.  These “schools” are really more like educational conferences where law enforcement spend a few days learning the inns and outs of criminal interdiction.  A good example is Desert Snow.  Many of the drug interdiction officers I encounter in my law practice have trained at Desert Snow.

As a criminal defense attorney, most of the criminal interdiction I deal with in Iowa tends to occur on the highways or interstates (which is logical considering Iowa is landlocked) and most involves drug smuggling.  Of course, by that I only mean I deal with real cases, where real charges have been filed.  I know from my experience that not everyone who is on the receiving end of law enforcement interdiction tactics is a criminal or engaged in criminal activity.  The tactics of criminal interdiction, which I will discuss in later posts, are often subtly intrusive and extremely uncomfortable for the motorist on the receiving end.  The legality of criminal interdiction, at least in Iowa, is not at all settled.  The point of this blog is to educate the reader on criminal interdiction and its effects on our security and our privacy.  I write with my own point of view as a criminal defense attorney but I encourage the reader to develop his or her own opinions.  I will try at all times to be accurate with my information.

I will be the first to admit that using criminal interdiction tactics, law enforcement has stopped countless criminals.  I would argue, however, that those same tactics, which are speculative and often have no basis in science or reality, have often served only to harass the innocent.  The Fourth Amendment and Article 1 Section 8 of our Iowa Constitution are designed to protect individuals from unreasonable invasions by the State.  As it is, I believe that much of the interdiction practiced in Iowa crosses the line into unreasonableness.

That said I hope you enjoy reading this blog and learn a little something too.

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