Pubdate: Tue, 01 Feb 2005
Source: Daily Mississippian (U of MS Edu)
Copyright: 2005 The Daily Mississippian
Author: Brooke Hatchett, DM Staff Reporter
Action: Supreme Court Gives Drug Dogs Free Rein


Decision Authorizes Drug Canine Use in Routine Searches

A speeding ticket will be the least of some drivers' problems in the wake 
of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Drug dogs can now be used during any lawful traffic stop even if the 
officer has no suspicions that illegal drugs are present. The Jan. 24 
ruling stemmed from the case of an Illinois man who was stopped for 
speeding but was convicted for marijuana found during the traffic stop.

Roy Caballes' ticket was being written when another officer arrived with a 
drug dog that barked at the trunk of his car.

Caballes' conviction had been reversed by the Illinois Supreme Court with 
the opinion that his right to be free of "unreasonable searches and 
seizures" had been violated, but the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 
lower court's ruling.

According to Lafayette County Sheriff Buddy East, Oxford and Lafayette 
county will see results from this ruling. He said he expects the number of 
drug searches in the area to increase.

"We aren't doing (searches) nearly as much as we will be doing it now," 
East said.

East said he believes the decision is a good idea as long as it is not abused.

"If we start abusing it, it won't be a good thing," he said.

On a regular basis, Lafayette County Sheriff Department officers do not 
stop cars and immediately search them. If there is reason to suspect the 
driver has drugs, however, the officers will bring the drug dogs, East said.

University Police Department Chief Randy Corban said officers occasionally 
run a dog around the outside of a vehicle if there is suspicion. He said 
they had not performed such a search since the ruling was made. However, 
Corban also said there was still the possibility that a car could be 
searched for drugs during a routine traffic stop.

"If we have a canine handler and a canine already on campus, there would be 
a possibility," Corban said.

Corban also agreed that the decision was a good one as long as they did not 
have to wait on the dog, which could take 15 or 20 minutes he said.

"I think it's okay as long as it's not an unreasonable detention," he said.

Lee Anne Mathena, a junior pharmacy major from West Point, said the changes 
would not bother her.

"I think it's going to cause problems for the people it should be used 
against, like those who need to be caught," she said.

Jay Thomas, a senior political science major from Tupelo, said he thinks it 
will cause problems with organizations such as the American Civil Liberties 
Union, but that he agreed with it.

"I think it's a step in the right direction to being more secure." 
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