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D.C. quietly folds up police checkpoint program

Reprinted from The Washington Post

Remember all the controversy over military checkpoints in the District neighborhood of Trinidad?

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier set up roadblocks there in the summer of 2008 in an effort to combat crime in the Northeast neighborhood. Residents, frustrated that they could not drive down the block in their own neighborhood sued with the help of the nonprofit Partnership for Civil Justice.

They initially lost, but then the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled this summer that the checkpoints, known as the Neighborhood Safety Zone program, were unconstitutional, handing a legal victory to the nonprofit and residents.

At the time, Lanier and D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles defended the program as an effective crime-fighting tool and said the city would consider whether to appeal to the full appellate court or the Supreme Court. In other words, the District was not giving up the legal fight.

But now they have. D.C. Solicitor General Todd S. Kim submitted papers to the court on Monday indicating that the city would no longer pursue further legal action. “The Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department has directed the rescission of the special order authorizing the Neighborhood Safety Zone program at issue in this appeal,” Kim wrote.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, attorney and co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice, said she hoped this meant “an end to this chapter of police activity in the District of Columbia.”