Pubdate: Tue, 15 Feb 2005
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2005 The Sun-Times Co.
Author: Gary Wisby


"Reasonable belief" that drugs are in someone's car would be needed, not 
"ear-piercing or dreadlocks," for police in Illinois to use drug-sniffing 
dogs under a bill filed Monday by Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago).

The measure is a response to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision based on 
an Illinois case. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan argued in favor of 
the dogs' use before the high court, which agreed with her in overruling an 
Illinois Supreme Court decision.

"In my opinion, this will lead to a police state," Davis said, subjecting 
"innocent motorists, college students and especially people of color to the 
harassing, frightening and embarrassing experience of a dog search."

Police need more evidence than "ear-piercing and dreadlocks" to pull a 
driver over and call in the dogs, she said. Davis cited protections in the 
U.S. and Illinois constitutions against searches and seizures that lack 
probable cause.

Driving With Pot

On Jan. 24, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the conviction of Roy 
Caballes, who had 270 pounds of marijuana in his car when a state trooper 
stopped him on Interstate 80 driving 6 mph over the speed limit. A police 
dog detected drugs when it sniffed the outside of the car. Madigan argued, 
and the court agreed 6-2, that the sniffing produced probable cause for a 

The trooper reportedly summoned a K-9 unit when Caballes, of Las Vegas, 
appeared nervous. But Daniel Coyne of the Chicago Council of Lawyers, who 
joined Davis at a news conference, said the real reason was that Caballes 
was "a Hispanic man wearing a suit."

Sniffer dogs aren't foolproof, Coyne added, noting that one study found 75 
percent of all the currency in the United States is contaminated with drugs.

The Illinois State Police reported that of 3,720 dog-sniff tests of 
vehicles, 325 -- fewer than 1 in 10 -- detected drugs in 2000, said Ed 
Yohnka of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.

Maria Valdez of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund 
said racial profiling of motorists is a major problem, especially in the 
suburbs. "You can imagine the fear of people, especially with children in 
the car, when the dogs are brought in," she said. "Many of them come from 
countries where dogs are used to intimidate folks."

Madigan's office said troopers using K-9 units last year seized $134 
million in drugs, including 3.34 million grams of marijuana and 998,000 
grams of cocaine.

She said in a statement that drug-sniffing dogs play an "indispensable" 
role. "Although such units are used infrequently, their impact . . . has 
been extremely significant."
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