Monday, January 24, 2005

Police can stop any car and sniff for drugs

"The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that in making a routine traffic stop, the police can permit a trained dog to sniff the car for drugs without the need for any particular reason to suspect the driver of a narcotics violation." NY Times.

Because on most highways every single car is driving faster than the speed limit, this decision gives police the power to stop any car they feel like and then use a dog to sniff for drugs.

This decision seems to violate the spirit of the Fourth Amendment. Merely driving the same speed as everyone else should not give police probable cause to search you and your car for drugs.

Pete Guither predicts that "this ruling is likely to result in a massive increase in the use of drug-sniffing dogs."


Old Blind Dog said...

Cops don't need a dog to find what they want to find.

TWM said...

Ahhhh, finally something I feel capable of commenting on intelligently. You see, shudder, I am a cop.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Key word there is "unreasonable". Walking a dog around a car is hardly intrusive and certainly not unreasonable. And this ruling is consistent with past Supreme Court cases so it is not a big change.

Finally, officers can pull cars over for a wide variety of reasons besides speeding, and just because others are speeding does not somehow give any one person the right to speed and not be pulled over for it. So that argument makes no sense. If you want to argue that a dog sniffing a car is an unreasonable search, fine, but the fact that they happened to pick one law breaker over another to stop has nothing to do with the dog issue.

Oh, and heaven help the cops if they "profile" for criminals - or terrorists for that matter. Better to search 80 year old ladies at airports and pull over familes of five in minivans on the Interstate.

I eagerly await the anti-cop barrage now . . .

Charles said...

I don't think I am anti-cop, unless the cop is unreasonable, rude, ignorant, or pushing some anti-citizen agenda. Conduct yourself professionally and politely and I get along just fine. It is pretty easy to see that if you stop 1 speeding car, you slow a hundred or so down as they go by.

If you delay me past the time to write my ticket in order to drive a dog out to sniff my car though, we are talking about some sort of unlawful detention it would appear. Don't be unpleasant about asking to have the dog there or let it act in a threatening manner to me or my family. Likewise, the K-9 unit had better be able to show it is trained and competent in court. Finally, let's not have your dog up on my car scratching the paint, peeing, or otherwise damaging private property.

TWM said...

Oh, and I posted on this subject in greater depth at my blog:

Roberto Iza Valdes said...
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Roberto Iza said...
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