III. CONCLUDING ADVICE
The lesson for cops is that if you want to use traffic laws as a pretext for
catching drug smugglers, you can. Absolutely, no problem. But you have to do it right, and doing it right can be labor-intensive. If you’re out to get some smuggling busts, have the dog unit ready. If you don’t have a dog on scene, and the suspect doesn’t give you consent (which if they’re any good, they won’t), then make as specific a record as you can of anything suspicious. If you don’t have anything (which again, if they’re any good, you won’t), it’s still not game over: just arrest for the traffic violation and impound the vehicle, and run a dog on it in the lot.92 This means time off the street, paperwork, and potentially getting chewed out by your boss if you don’t turn up contraband but it also means your bust will stick if the car was loaded. This is almost always good advice; I’ve heard it from my bosses, and I’ve given it myself: when in doubt, arrest, call it in, and let the lawyers deal with it.
The lesson for perps is threefold: (1) don’t consent, (2) know the
reasonable suspicion boilerplate and don’t provide it, and (3) make a record of the encounter any way you can, including your behavior, appearance, and demeanor before and during the stop, the officer’s stated motive for the stop, all of your responses to questioning, whether or not you were placed under arrest, and the exact amount of time you were held on the side of the road.
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