Take 5

Court Finds Kansas Highway Patrol Violated Fourth Amendment Rights

The United States District Court for the District of Kansas has ruled that the Superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP), Herman Jones, is responsible for a policy or practice that unlawfully detains motorists in Kansas, particularly out-of-state motorists, without reasonable suspicion or consent. This practice is in violation of the Fourth Amendment and the precedent set by Vasquez v. Lewis.

The case was brought forward by plaintiffs Blaine Franklin Shaw and others, who alleged that the KHP was disproportionately targeting out-of-state drivers for traffic stops and canine sniffs, a practice known as the “Kansas Two-Step.” The plaintiffs argued that this practice was a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The court’s decision was based on evidence presented by the plaintiffs, which included traffic stop data from the KHP, a commercial dataset measuring the home locations of visitors to businesses in Kansas, reports from KHP and other law enforcement agencies documenting canine sniffs conducted during KHP traffic stops, and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding traffic fatalities by location in Kansas and Colorado.

The court found that out-of-state drivers made up approximately 7% of the total traffic stops at the times and places studied. However, they were disproportionately subjected to canine sniffs once they were stopped. The court ruled that this disparity could not be explained on grounds other than the out-of-state residency of the drivers.

The court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief, effectively putting an end to the KHP’s discriminatory practice. The court’s decision represents a significant victory for out-of-state motorists traveling through Kansas and a reaffirmation of Fourth Amendment protections. (Source: United States District Court for the District of Kansas, Case No. 19-1343-KHV, Document 539, Filed 07/24/23)

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