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February 2005
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Putting a leash on Drug Dogs

I’ve discussed at length my problems with the Supreme Court decision in Caballes (allowing suspicionless dog sniffs of cars), and the road that this decision could take us down. Even now, I understand that there’s a case from a few years ago regarding a suspicionless sniff of a home that may be brought to the Supreme Court (unfortunately I’ve lost the citation, but I think it was in Texas – the dog alerted at the garage, but the drugs were in a completely different part of the home).
Stopping this trend may require getting legislatures to act. Yes, I know that’s a tough sell, but, as Steve at Decrimwatch notes that Illinois Representative Monique Davis has filed a bill to hold the dogs back.

“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.

The bill is HB 1557:

Amends the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963. Provides that a motor vehicle or the driver or passenger of a motor vehicle stopped on the basis of a violation or suspected violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code may not be subjected to an investigation or procedure involving a drug detecting canine or canine sniff in the absence of specific and articulable facts that support a reasonable belief that illegal drugs are present in the motor vehicle or upon the person of the driver or passenger of the motor vehicle.

Good one. Let’s pass it.

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