Cops raid barbershops: step away from the shears.

Author:Balko, Radley
Position::Citings - Brief article

LAST AUGUST more than a dozen heavily armed sheriff's deputies in Orange County, Florida, raided a handful of barbershops in the Orlando area. They did it again in September, and then again in October. Shears-wielding hair cutters and their customers were handcuffed and, in some cases, thrown to the floor at gunpoint. In all, nine shops were raided, and 37 people were arrested.

The raids at the mostly black-and Hispanic-owned shops had every appearance of being drug sweeps. Shop owners, barbers, and patrons told the Orlando Sentinel that police demanded to be shown where illegal drugs and weapons were hidden, then searched the shops from top to bottom. In the end, though, 34 of the 37 arrests were for "barbering without a license," a misdemeanor for which only three people have ever served jail time in Florida. Two arrests were for misdemeanor marijuana possession. The raids netted just one arrest on felony drug and weapon charges.

The most troubling part of the raids: Although they were clearly intended to find drugs or weapons, the police didn't bother to obtain...

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