After three police officers claimed that their K-9 units were olfactory adept during a traffic stop, on October 5, 2019, Des Moines, Iowa’s human crime sniffers took over. Court DocumentsThe U.S. Court of Appeals 8th Circuit showed that Vernon Shumaker, the accused, claimed the officers detected marijuana as he drove behind him.
Officers testified they found less than 1 gram of marijuana inside a container from a moving vehicle, which was about a football field away. However, the wind was strong enough to blow across traffic. The officers claimed that they smelled burning marijuana from their patrol car’s windows and were able to pinpoint the source of the smoke by smelling it through the windshield.
The officers insisted that they had probable cause to pull over the vehicle “without any shadow of doubt”. A few marijuana blunts were found in an unlit ashtray. Shumakers was arrested as a felon, drug user and gun owner.
Although they had all the evidence they required to be convicted, they still faced one hurdle: The Fourth Amendment. Before they can search and seize property, officers must prove probable cause. Yet when Shumaker filed a motion to suppress evidence—based on the limits of human noses—the district court sided with the officers. The 8th Circuit affirmed the ruling. rulingOn December 29, 2021
They are the guardians of civil rights. The courts are essential for citizens. engaged judiciaryThis places the burden on government. Yet too often, courts bend over backward to justify officers’ testimony, no matter how implausible—even when government officials have Clear ConflictsOf interest.
Iowa’s law enforcement agencies use routinely traffic enforcement. Generate revenueBy using a money laundering scheme called civil forfeiture. When officers seize cash and other valuables, civil forfeiture forces property owners to file affidavits and pay legal fees to recover their assets—even when they are innocent of wrongdoing.
Many property owners walk away when the costs are higher than the value of their seized goods. However, ReformsBecause the Iowa Legislature was passed in 2017, motorists are now permanently without risk of losing their assets. The assets are kept by the police and prosecutors at 100 percent.
“Policing to Make ProfitsThe 2020 Institute for Justice report, “The Civil Forfeiture Report”, shows that Iowa law enforcement agencies have received more than $100 Million in civil forfeiture over the past 20 years.
This is a powerful financial incentive to aggressive traffic patrols. Shumaker was picked up by the Des Moines Police Department Special Enforcement Team, who specializes in seizures. A member of that team even stated they try to make as many stops possible.
This practice has been the focus of a cottage business. This is the essence of cottage industry. director, Smell and Taste CentreShumaker was represented by the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, who testified for Shumaker. He stated that Shumaker’s case was riddled with misconduct. They followed this up by a second expert witness. Desert SnowA multi-million dollar firm that trains cops in civil forfeiture procedures, called. They claimed that noses can be used to do incredible things if given proper training and experience. This assertion passed judicial scrutiny.
The Constitution is being corroded by passive judges, who allow government arguments to be accepted without serious scrutiny. Evidently, something is wrong with law enforcement. The courts don’t know how to find it.