Pubdate: Sat, 29 Jan 2005
Source: Marion Daily Republican (IL)
Copyright: 2005 Marion Daily Republican
Author: Diane Wilkins, Marion Daily Republican


MARION -- A recent Supreme Court ruling will help local law
enforcement agencies take a bigger "bite out of crime."

The court ruled in a case originating in Illinois that drug-sniffing
dogs could be used in routine traffic stops.

"This ruling confirms the ability of our officers to use the dogs in a
routine stop," Williamson County Sheriff Tom Cundiff said.

Cundiff said that Williamson County has always had an aggressive
anti-drug policy, but this will help officers in their attempt to
curtail the drug problem.

Williamson County currently has two canines with the department,
Quatro and Teko.

Quatro is handled by Deputy Chuck Broy and Teko is handled by Deputy
James Wright.

The dogs, both Belgian Malinois, can be used for suspect searches,
missing persons searches and are trained to protect the officer, as
well as drug detection.

"Knowing that the U.S. Supreme Court will back them up gives the
officers more confidence to carry out the job," Cundiff said. "These
dogs are used on a regular basis anyway, but this will make them even
more useful."

The 6-2 ruling by the Supreme Court sided with Illinois Attorney
General Lisa Madigan, who argued the case, and Illinois police who
stopped Roy Caballes in 1998 along Interstate 80 for driving over the
speed limit. Although Caballes lawfully produced his driver's license,
troopers brought over a drug dog after Caballes seemed nervous.

The dog sniffed out $250,000 worth of marijuana in Caballes' trunk.
Caballes, from Las Vegas, was convicted of drug trafficking and
sentenced to 12 years in prison, but his conviction was overturned
when the Illinois Supreme Court ruled the troopers improperly
broadened an ordinary traffic stop.

Caballes argued the Fourth Amendment protects motorists from searches
such as dog sniffing, but Justice John Paul Stevens disagreed,
reasoning that the privacy intrusion was minimal.

"The dog sniff was performed on the exterior of respondent's car while
he was lawfully seized for a traffic violation," Stevens wrote. "Any
intrusion on respondent's privacy expectations does not rise to the
level of a constitutionally cognizable infringement."

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the dissenting justices, "The
use of drug dogs will make routine traffic stops more adversarial,"
Ginsburg said. "Injecting such animals into a routine traffic stop
changes the character of the encounter between the police and the motorist." 
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