Newsbrief: Illinois Supreme Court Limits Use of Drug Dogs in Traffic Stops 12/13/02

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A closely divided Illinois Supreme Court ruled December 5 that police who pull over motorists for traffic violations must have solid reasons to suspect a crime before they can call in drug sniffing dogs. The 4-3 ruling included a strong dissenting opinion that "sniffs" by drug dogs are not searches -- a position endorsed by the US Supreme Court -- and that privacy rights are not violated if drug dogs detect a drug odor escaping from a vehicle.

Anne F. Cox was pulled over by Fairfield, IL, police officer Matt McCormick in 1998. Although Cox was not impaired and McCormick saw no evidence of drug use, he detained Cox until a canine unit arrived. The drug dog found a small amount of marijuana, leading to drug charges against Cox.

"If we held that Officer McCormick was justified in calling the canine unit, we would clearly support the view that police officers can resort to the use of canine units at every traffic stop," wrote Justice Charles Freeman for the majority.

That's the view that court dissenters wanted upheld. "Because a canine sniff is not a search, we should reject the conclusion that the police need a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity before they may conduct a canine sniff of a lawfully detained vehicle," wrote Justice Robert Thomas.

The cops aren't happy. Dave Weigand, head of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, complained to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the ruling will lead to repeated challenges of arrests based on drug dog sniffs and will "hamstring" police drug enforcement efforts.

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Issue #267, 12/13/02 DRCNet Needs Your Help! | Editorial: O, Canada! (Oh, the Embarrassment!) | Canadian House Drugs Committee Calls for Cannabis Decrim, Safe Injection Sites, Heroin Maintenance | Canadian Justice Minister Calls for Cannabis Decrim "Early Next Year" -- US Opposition Could Pose Obstacle | Britain Drops Old Drug Strategy Targets, Goals Were "Not Credible" -- New Strategy a Mixed Bag | Michigan Legislature Repeals Draconian Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences | New Jersey Court Declares State's Civil Forfeiture Funding Scheme Unconstitutional | Newsbrief: Santa Cruz Deputizes Medical Marijuana Providers | Newsbrief: Massachusetts High Court Blocks Arrest of Needle Exchange Participants | Newsbrief: Colombia -- It's Drug War -- No, Oil War -- No, Terror War | Newsbrief: British Ex-Minister Calls Ecstasy Law "An Ass" | Newsbrief: Israeli Green Leaf Party Eyes Knesset Seats | Newsbrief: Illinois Supreme Court Limits Use of Drug Dogs in Traffic Stops | Newsbrief: Paramilitary Drug Raid Tactics Anger Eugene Residents | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | Newsbrief: SAMHSA Says Treat Drug Abusers' Mental Illness | Media and Resources: Medical Cannabis Conference Tapes, WOLA Report, Jacob Sullum in Reason, Deborah Saunders in SF Chronicle | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision, Tulia, Salvia Divinorum | The Reformer's Calendar
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