For the past year mayor Andy Berke has refused to pay the slightest attention to a notice given to him as regards his abusive use of police power against private people using the roads within the city limits.
A proposed reform would have Mr. Berke direct Chief David Roddy to alter the questions that his officers pose at the beginning of every transportation stop under the state vehicle code.
By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio
The reform helps establish the jurisdiction of the officer in what everyone assumes is a criminal matter and which everyone assumes brings common people into the net of police power. Usually the poorest, least prepared and most ignorant end up in the police dragnet in Hamilton County and join the hundreds in the county jail too poor to make bail.
The proposed new question is based on a basic fact about the transportation industry.
Proof of commercial activity
What is the trade practice and custom in the shipping industry that is the ground of the question Mayor Berke should establish among cop ranks?
That basis is commercial activity of the driver or operator of a motor vehicle. If the person in the car is not a driver or operator — someone involved in commercial use of the road — that person is a private party not subject to the statute.
The source of the question is a description of what highway patrol officers seek in a transportation stop of someone involved in transportation.
Show us your shipper papers
It is perhaps a stretch to suggest that police officers in Chattanooga have the authority to enforce Title 55 in the first place. But assuming that they do, they should base their interrogatories on actual extensions of authority in the code.
Troopers of the Tennessee Highway Patrol have authority to ask or and inspect “any and all bills of lading, waybills, invoices or other evidences of the character of the lading being transported in such vehicle.”
As the enumeration of power list for THP’s department continues, the law allows the officer to demand that his subject “[p]ermit such officer to inspect the contents of such vehicle for the purpose of comparing same with bills of lading, waybills, invoices or other evidence of ownership or of transportation for compensation.”
City governments have no authority to regulate any car or truck user other than a commercial one. This is established in court cases. City of Chattanooga versus Jackson, 172 Tenn. 264, 111 S.W.2d , 1026 indicates that passage of the state act in the title does nothing to ”deprive municipalities of power to regulate the use of your street by motor vehicles for hire within their corporate limits.”
The question Mayor Berke, a practicing attorney, should direct his chief to insert the following question into every traffic arrest. (A traffic stop is a traffic arrest for 4th amendment purposes.)
That question is …
“Sir [or Ma’am], are you using the road today for profit or gain, or for a commercial purpose?”
That’s it. It’s not so detailed as to intimidate the person who is a private user. But it gets to the essentials. If that person is using the road for profit and gain, if that person’s principal place of business is the roadway, the highway, then he is subject to the officer under Title 55. He or she will know how to answer the question properly, and to submit all documents required of a commercial user (proof of insurance, vehicle registration, driver license).
This question lets the cop establish subject matter jurisdiction. Without establishing subect matter jurisdiction, all such traffic arrests in the city limits are ultra vires, outside the scope of the law, and are illegal and unconstitutional, even though they are permitted by the state’s judiciary.
In light of transportation administrative notice, these stops are done in bad faith, by state actors in their personal capacity, under color of law, and violative of numerous statutes that prohibit such lawlessness by police, officials and government agents.