Sobriety Checkpoint A Frightening Experience

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Editor:

Last Saturday night, I headed up Highway 260 from my house in Star Valley to my boyfriend's house in Payson. I saw bright lights ahead. At first I thought I was approaching a very bad accident. Spotlights lit up the scene, and there were at least 10 police cars. Policemen were everywhere.

Turns out they were stopping people at the nursery.

I saw one senior citizen step out of his car and be escorted to the other side of 260. Once there, under the glare of huge spotlights and the curious eyes of other detainees such as myself, he had a flashlight shined at close range into his eyes.

The poor, old guy. Probably had a nice dinner at Diamond Point Shadows with his wife and was on his way home.

As a policeman approached my car, I grabbed my cell phone and called my boyfriend. If I was to be interrogated and similarly manhandled, I wanted him to be aware of it.

The officer said, "Good evening, ma'am. We are here to scare the living daylights out of innocent travelers such as yourself." It didn't really go like that, but that's what it felt like. Although it wasn't New Year's Eve or a holiday weekend, they were conducting a sobriety check.

I was finally allowed to go, but the excitement I felt while on my way to see my boyfriend was dashed by the sudden turn of frightening events. In addition, my daughter who had come up from the Valley the night before, left my house about an hour earlier to get home. I hoped that she had missed the interrogation, and also hoped that it would not discourage her -- or others, for that matter -- from visiting Payson in the future.

It is one thing for law enforcement officials to be on the lookout for criminal activity, but the sheer numbers and the magnitude of the scene were like something out of a "B" movie, and produced for me, at least, several moments of sheer terror.

When President Bush tells us that we are fighting a war to preserve our freedoms, is this what he is talking about? Were these policemen concerned about our rights when they put an elderly U.S. citizen in a most uncomfortable position just because they could?

They were successful at ruining one woman's evening, and I would venture to say that of a probably innocent elderly gent, as well.

Bravo men! Your scare tactics worked.

Patricia Sheehan, Star Valley

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