High court K9 ruling not likely to impact here

Published 12:02 am Thursday, April 23, 2015

A River Falls drug dog is shown with officer Kyle Adams. | Courtesy photo

A River Falls drug dog is shown with officer Kyle Adams. | Courtesy photo

Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that police could not lengthen traffic stops to wait for drug dogs to come inspect vehicles should have no bearing on local police departments with their own dogs.

Late last year, after much discussion, the River Falls Police Department purchased two drug dogs.

Florala PD and the sheriff’s department also have dogs.

In the first quarter of 2015, the department netted 196 drug cases, a number up from just 160 total in 2014.

River Falls Police Chief Greg Jackson said the new dogs are one of the reasons.

“I would say the new K9 additions have helped,” he said.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority in the 6-to-3 vote, saying, “A police stop exceeding the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures.”

The case before the high court stems from a Nebraska incident in which a police officer saw an SUV driven by Dennys Rodriguez swerve onto the shoulder of a road. The officer performed a routine traffic stop, questioned him and his passenger, ran a records check and issued a warning.

After that, the officer ran his drug dog around the vehicle. The dog smelled drugs and the search netted a large bag of meth.

The entire stop and search was around eight minutes.

Ginsburg wrote that, “An officer, in other words, may conduct certain unrelated checks during an otherwise lawful traffic stop.” However, “he may not do so in a way that prolongs the stop, absent the reasonable suspicion ordinarily demanded to justify detaining an individual.”

Jackson said the ruling shouldn’t affect his traffic stops using the dogs.

“When I’m conducting a stop, I run the dog while I’m running the license,” he said. “That’s within a reasonable timeframe. We aren’t calling for someone to from another part of the county with the dog.”