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Cop's Search Justified by Car's Odors Court Says

Cop's Search Justified by Car's Odors Court Says

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Associated Press

January 10, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The strong whiff of air fresheners and other odor-masking agents was enough reason for a highway officer to suspect a pulled-over driver might be a drug trafficker, according to the Utah Court of Appeals.

Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Jason Jensen pulled over Heather Richards in 2007 for crossing the fog line and following another vehicle too closely.

He noticed a “bizarrely strong” odor coming from the car and saw orange rinds on the floor, containers of Lysol and Armor All and two cell phones.

Richards told Jensen she was driving to Minnesota to pick up her young son, who did not like flying, according to court records.

Jensen refused the trooper’s request to search the car, saying there was no justification for it. A few minutes later, a drug-sniffing dog indicated the trunk where officers found 60 pounds of marijuana.

Richards was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance and two traffic offenses. She later entered a conditional guilty plea, reserving the right to challenge evidence that was revealed by the dog’s sniff.

The appeals court denied that challenge in its Dec. 31 ruling.

The court noted the trooper had been trained to look for suspicious signs that might indicate drug activity, including odor-masking agents and multiple cell phones.

In light of his training, Jensen likely would have been in derelict of his duties if he had let Richards drive away without pursuing his suspicions, the court said. Extending the traffic stop long enough to check out the car was reasonable, the court said.

“While any given driver may love the fragrance of citrus fruit for its own sake and strive to keep the interior of her car germ free and shiny, and while there may be other odors besides the distinctive aroma of marijuana that a driver might legitimately intend to mask through the presence of air fresheners and other odor masking agents, an officer is not required to rule out all innocent explanations,” the court said.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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  • John_groh_max50

    wiseass0282

    over 4 years ago

    10986 Comments

    Pretty work. By both the Officer and the Courts.

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max50_max50_max50_max50_max50

    rhood

    over 4 years ago

    23592 Comments

    A sound ruling by the court and a good job by the officer.

  • P23-2_max50

    kevw25

    over 4 years ago

    1298 Comments

    Good to see a pro officer ruling, seems like good cop work to me.

  • Mpd_patch_max50

    smcculley

    over 4 years ago

    130 Comments

    Wow!!! A ruling in our favor. I was beginning to wonder if I would ever see one of those.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    One for the good guys...great job!

  • Image_max50

    usa_24

    over 4 years ago

    5022 Comments

    Great job

  • Team_opca_max50

    dhuitt

    over 4 years ago

    222 Comments

    Great job Trooper!!! And it's nice to see a court backing up the police for a change. Awesome job.

  • 082310163642_max50

    carlitoso2

    over 4 years ago

    786 Comments

    Great job!!!!!!!

  • White_shirt_max50

    uncledennis1

    over 4 years ago

    23142 Comments

    Good job trooper and finally a judge with some nads. 60 pounds of marijuana would keep Keith Richards in supply for a couple of weeks.

  • Hitman_max50

    g45

    over 4 years ago

    172 Comments

    Finally, a judge with his head somewhere other than his ass. Nice job getting the weed off the streets.

  • 74596_129289523905506_927477597_n_max50

    CadetAK

    over 4 years ago

    3428 Comments

    Key word here being "reasonable" (had a flashback there to my Field Ops course LOL)......good job, officer!

  • Img00039_max50

    bfriskey

    over 4 years ago

    980 Comments

    Sorry gotta go with the judge on this one. Seemed to be enough reasonable cause for a search. Great Job.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    Good call!

  • L_f3150d_max50

    Jima

    over 4 years ago

    70 Comments

    Good Job! Chalk one up for the good guys!

  • Img_1050_max50

    Irishcop1961

    over 4 years ago

    46236 Comments

    Nice job by the Trooper and the Utah Court of Appeals.

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