Saturday, February 11, 2006

Nebraska Supreme Court affirms traffic stop search where State Patrolman had to detain driver and three passengers and requested assistance from officers outside their counties, a common occurrence in rural areas State v. Voichahoske, 271 Neb. 64 Filed February 10, 2006. No. S-05-132. Nebraska Supreme Court upholds detention and search of vehicle and subsequent strip search of front seat passenger after traffic stop. Supreme Court rules that 29-215 which states conditions for officers to conduct arrests outside their jurisdictions does not require the officer articulate those reasons to the suspect. The Court figures it needs to give law enforcement leeway in sparsely populated areas of the state and wont require hypertechnical interpretations of 29-215, especially when meth use and traffic is on the rise there.Passenger helped conceal driver's identity, a woman who was wanted on a bench warrant. Drug dog found evidence of drug activity. The officer therefore had probable cause to search the passenger and detain him as the suspect was part of a common enterprise with the driver. See Maryland v. Pringle, 540 U.S. 366, 372, 124 S. Ct. 795, 157 L. Ed. 2d 769 (2003). The patrolman had to wait to have drug dogs from other counties come sniff the car and also had to wait to have officers from other counties assist in arrestingthe passengers. Under 29-215 RRS NE the officer requesting assistance from officers outside their jurisdiction need to have the proper reasons, such as evidence being lost, but does not need to articulate those reasons to the suspect.
Subsection (2)(c)(ii)(C) does not require that an officer requesting assistance tell the responding officer that he or she fears evidence will be lost. It asks (1) whether the suspect "may destroy or conceal evidence of the commission of a crime," § 29-215(2)(c)(ii)(C), and (2) whether an officer "needs assistance in making an arrest," § 29-215(2)(c)(ii). The statute fails to specify whether these questions are answered subjectively--what the requesting officer believed, or objectively--what a reasonable person under the circumstances could believe. But we need not decide this because both standards are met.

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