Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Copyright: 1998, The Des Moines Register.
Pubdate: Sat, 17 Oct 98
Author: Jason Clayworth


The State Patrol arrested motorists along Interstate 80.

A law professor says an Iowa State Patrol sting operation in eastern Iowa
that caught 100 people on drug and weapons charges might have been

For the operation, Trooper Robert Smith of the patrol's Cedar Rapids post
said, four signs reading "Narcotics Enforcement Ahead" were erected along
Interstate 80 near Wilton earlier this week.

Smith said plainclothes officers then watched as drivers stopped to dispose
of marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine in waste cans at a rest area.

Others got out of their cars to put guns in the trunk.

The operation involved 25 law enforcement officers, three dog units and an
airplane monitoring drivers from overhead.

Smith said nearly 250 motorists were stopped from Tuesday through Thursday.
About 100 of them were arrested.

But Jim Tromkovicz, a professor at the University of Iowa, said a judge
could rule that the tactic amounts to an illegal search and seizure.

"I don't think if (motorists) pulled over at the side of the road, that
gives the officers the right to search their car," Tromkovicz said.

He acknowledged that a driver who pulled over after seeing the sign might
arouse suspicion but said police need more of a reason to make a stop.
Smith said the tactic has been used effectively by law enforcement
officials in Des Moines and Council Bluffs. Randall Wilson, legal director
for the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, said the signs create a situation in
which drivers can appear guilty. "It makes a person panic regardless if
they're innocent or guilty," he said.

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Checked-by: Joel W. Johnson