FBI, police surround Michigan town with checkpoints, stop & question every vehicle

Police question drivers at a checkpoint in Armada, Michigan. (Source: WXYZ)
Police question drivers at a checkpoint in Armada, Michigan.  (Source: WXYZ)
Police question drivers at a checkpoint in Armada, Michigan. (Source: WXYZ)

ARMADA, MI — Long lines of traffic formed as travelers attempted to enter or leave the Village of Armada; government agents roadblocked all routes around town and put every driver under scrutiny as part of a massive murder investigation.

The blanket search was conducted on the evening of Thursday, July 31, 2014. Swarms of FBI agents, Michigan State Police, and local police officers joined forces to create three massive checkpoints around the small community (population 1,730), causing traffic to be “backed up for miles.”

The police action came one week after a local teen girl was found murdered in a drainage ditch on July 24th. Short on clues in the search for April Millsap’s killer, investigators decided to stop, question, and document every traveler in town — “car by car.”

Traffic was "backed up for miles" around Armada.  (Source: Local 4 News, Detroit)
Traffic was “backed up for miles” around Armada. (Source: Local 4 News, Detroit)

“They’re stopping every car both ways, and they’re taking license plate numbers, names and addresses,” one resident named Brian told CBS Detroit, after being stopped by the FBI on Fulton Road. “They’re writing all this stuff down, they have a clipboard, and they’re writing everybody’s information down. It’s not like they’re just checking and you go ahead, they’re writing everything down.”

WXYZ reported that police scrawled an “X” on the hands of every person they had talked to.

Helicopter footage confirmed that lines of traffic were indeed backed up around the town during the dramatic effort. While some found the police checkpoints “comforting,” others reportedly protested against the dragnet, according to WXYZ Detroit.

Names, addresses, and license plates were recorded.  (Source: WXYZ)
Names, addresses, and license plates were recorded. (Source: WXYZ)
Every driver was questioned about their whereabouts.  (Source: Local 4 News, Detroit)
Every driver was questioned about their whereabouts. (Source: Local 4 News, Detroit)

The police have no suspects in custody, but did take the time earlier this week to raid and arrest two unrelated individuals for growing illegal plants.

Tracking down murder suspects is certainly a legitimate role of the (local) police, and every virtuous person would agree that April Millsap’s killer should be found. The challenge that we continually face as a society is not only in keeping the police focused on legitimate crimes — as opposed to victimless crimes — but also in performing this task while respecting individual rights. High-emotion, panic-driven events undoubtedly present the easiest opportunities for the government to roll over innocent citizens’ rights and privacy.

Rather than interrogating everyone at involuntary checkpoints, police and citizens should voluntarily spread the call to find Ms. Millsap’s killer. A vigilant, engaged community will most likely be able to produce the tips necessary to find the guilty party. Submit information to investigators and support them when they do a good job. Do not, however, permit them to use a desperate situation to enact unreasonable measures.

The Michigan State Police tip line is (877) 616-4677. Tips may also be submitted online at www.michigan.gov/michtip.

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