FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Lt. Tom Albergo, 760-839-4901
Escondido City Manager Clay Phillips announced today that an agreement has been reached with the ACLU regarding the public’s expression of their First Amendment Rights to object or support daytime and nighttime checkpoints. Under the agreement the operational area of daytime checkpoints will not include any portion of a public sidewalk normally accessible to pedestrians, unless the checkpoint is conducted in a location where it is necessary to close a portion of sidewalk to create a distance of 15 feet between the public and the officers conducting the screening. Night time checkpoints that require additional equipment, such as generators, and lights may involve the closure of sidewalks as part of the operational area.
Commenting on the announcement, Acting Police Chief Cory Moles stated, “This agreement allows the Escondido Police Department to continue with our traffic checkpoints to ensure community safety, while also protecting the First Amendment Rights of our citizens.”
The agreement allows the Escondido Police Department (EPD) to continue controlling and closing areas normally open to the public in the event of a police investigation, pursuit, or other emergency or exigent circumstances that occur during the course of a traffic checkpoint. The agreement also allows EPD to continue having the ability to conduct traffic safety checkpoints, both during the day and at night. Nothing in the agreement prohibits any police officer from making a lawful and constitutional stop or arrest. The agreement further states that if EPD allows members of the press to enter an operational area the individual plaintiffs must be provided equivalent access for a tour, but such access is limited to one time per location and will not exceed 15 minutes per tour. The City has agreed to reimburse ACLU attorney fees of $7,300.
On May 24, 2012, the City of Escondido was served with a complaint filed in Federal District Court by lawyers for the ACLU, which alleged that on three separate occasions the Escondido police officers and California Highway Patrol officers infringed upon Plaintiffs’ First Amendment Rights to free speech by prohibiting protesting activities at checkpoints conducted in the City of Escondido. The Plaintiffs sought monetary damages as well as an injunction prohibiting the City and CHP from further infringing upon their rights to free speech.