Will a lawsuit stop Kansas?

The state that inspired the book ‘What’s the Matter with Kansas?’ continues to ignore cannabis prohibition’s uncanny ability to ignite a populist revolt whenever and wherever law enforcement exceeds its authority.

Exceeding their authority, the Kansas Highway Patrol targets motorists who are merely exiting Colorado into Kansas. According to studies, the KHP prefers intercepting those who look ethnic, or who display Colorado or out-of-state license plates, this in a state that was anti-slavery during the Civil War. The first complaints arose in 2016. The bogus stops didn’t stop. Now a lawsuit has been filed by the ACLU and three plaintiffs who were detained by the KHP. The legal action is drawing wide public attention to corrupt police tactics, such as the Kansas Two Step:

Ninety-three percent of the Kansas Highway Patrol’s traffic stops in 2017 involved cars with out-of-state plates, according to a lawsuit challenging the practice as an infringement on motorists’ constitutional rights. […]

The complaint … challenges a law enforcement practice known as “the Kansas Two Step,” a maneuver used to detain drivers for canine drug searches. The maneuver, which is included in the agency’s training materials, is a way to break off an initial traffic stop and attempt to reengage the driver in what would then be a consensual encounter.

The way the “Kansas Two Step” works is this: A trooper stops a vehicle with out-of-state plates under the pretense of a minor traffic violation. The trooper issues the driver a ticket or warning for the infraction, then turns around and takes a couple of steps away from the vehicle before turning around and asking the driver to agree to answer additional questions. When the driver denies transporting anything illegal, the trooper requests consent to search the car. If the driver declines to consent to a search, the trooper detains the driver for a canine drug search. […]

Litigating against illegal marijuana searches by the Kansas highway police might seem odd given that Wichita is home to the fabulously wealthy and influential Charles Koch DBA Koch Industries. Koch has criticized marijuana prohibition and he funds the Charles Koch Institute that works for juridical reform. So where is the Koch action plan for legalizing medicinal cannabis in Kansas and eliminating drug related stops and asset forfeitures by the KHP?

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4 Responses to Will a lawsuit stop Kansas?

  1. WalStMonky says:


    It was quite a struggle before Kansas was fully anti-slavery. During the 1850s the debate was loud and often led to violence. The people in the Kansas Territory actually elected 2 separate Legislatures, one pro and one anti slavery. President Franklin Pierce actually sent in the military to dispatch the anti-slavery Legislature. How do I know this? It was on a plaque at a rest stop in Kansas where I stopped on my way back from a taste of freedom journey. I didn’t see a single cop in Western Kansas. There’s literally almost nothing there. Including 200 miles of dead space for cell phones. On I-70 which is the only part of the State I visited. I don’t worry about cops because I’ve got cruise control and rarely exceed the speed limit by more than 3 MPH. Also I never smoke in the car. Well, actually I never smoke at all anymore. I certainly would rather chance Kansas than Nebraska, Ohio and Pennsylvania. But now I live in a State with an extremely well designed medicinal cannabis law. Is Maryland the only State in the Union that doesn’t ding the patient for sales and excise taxes?

  2. DC Reade says:

    About 10 years ago, I had a California policeman (a Fish & Game officer, no less, evidently a rookie) pull the same stuff described above, including trying to trick me into unlocking my door after I had stepped out of the vehicle and locked it behind me. It was a chilly night, and he kept asking me if I wanted to get some warmer clothes out of my vehicle. I turned down the offer, because it might have implied my consent for him to do a search. So he told me that he was going to call his station and have a dog brought out.

    The cop also did the whole hands-on-the-car pat-down thing on my pockets, including quizzing me about everything he was feeling in my pockets through my trousers (fortunately, that didn’t include groping or fondling, and I know that others have had it worse.)

    After about 25 minutes of being out in the chilly Delta breeze, he informed me that he was letting me go on my way, because no dog was available for the sniff search.

    I guess it’s okay to mention that I did have a very, very small quantity of a substance that’s now legal in California in my possession, along with some “paraphernalia.” I doubt that the dogs would have sniffed it. But I wouldn’t have given my consent to a vehicle search even if I was certifiably legal.

    Never consent to a search, unless already caught blatantly red-handed with evidence of contraband, which would mean that the police have probable cause anyway. Even then, it’s a judgement call. And if you’re ordered out of your vehicle, always lock it behind you.

    In my experience, being ordered out of the vehicle is unusual. Police at stops usually tell you to remain seated. They often request that you have your hands on the steering wheel, where they can see them. Be polite, but not overly chatty. Answer questions; don’t volunteer information. If you don’t like the question, you don’t have to answer it. That does incite suspicion. But if it’s an incriminating question, there’s no need to incriminate yourself. If the questioning persists, ask if you’re under arrest. But save that question until you need to use it. Also a judgement call. If you do find yourself under arrest, remember that you have the right to remain silent, etc. If you’re living a risky life, it helps to have the phone number of a lawyer and a bail bondsman. If you’re living a really risky life, get to know those people in advance. Consider a down payment to a bondsman as a form of insurance. In the event of an arrest, it will save you an untold number of hassles.

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