(ConservativeHub.com) – In a comprehensive verdict issued on Friday, July 21, U.S. District Judge Kathryn H. Vratil has unequivocally called for the cessation of the Kansas Highway Patrol’s (KHP) use of their “two-step” method. According to Judge Vratil’s interpretation of the situation, the controversial technique was found to be infringing on the protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment.
The two-step technique in question reportedly encompassed a two-phase approach to traffic stops. Officers would begin with a standard traffic stop procedure. Once this initial step was completed and they returned to their patrol vehicle, they would then initiate a second phase, attempting to gain access to search the vehicle under suspicion of marijuana possession.
Colorado and Missouri, two states connected to Kansas, both allow individuals to have marijuana. As a result, police were reportedly able to find people traveling between states who had the drug. According to Fox News, the application of the two-step method led to a significant number of instances where officers were successful in locating marijuana and subsequently laying charges against the vehicle’s occupants.
The suit against this practice was brought to court by a group of plaintiffs: Samuel Shaw, Blaine Shaw, Mark Erich, Joshua Bosire, and Shawna Maloney. Their representation in this landmark case was undertaken by the law firm Spencer Fane LLP and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas (ACLU).
In the course of her judgement, Judge Vratil underscored the inherent risks associated with the KHP’s method. She emphasized that if law enforcement continues to stop a large volume of cars using this approach, the likelihood of discovering drugs increases significantly. Yet, she argued that the strategy simultaneously undermines and infringes upon the constitutional rights of numerous individuals who are not involved in any illegal activity. AP reported that she is planning to order restrictions and audits for Highway Patrol in order to crack down on the practice.
The verdict goes on to shed light on another specific aspect of the KHP’s strategy. The judgement pointed out that the KHP had been disproportionately targeting motorists from either Missouri or Colorado. It was these individuals, driving on the federal highway I-70, who were most often subjected to this intrusive technique.
During a testimony, one of the plaintiffs, Shawna Maloney, shared a personal experience. She recounted an incident in March 2018 when her family’s RV was subject to one of these unwarranted searches while they were on a cross-country trip. The experience was so unsettling that she admitted to feeling a sense of unease and insecurity when considering driving through the state of Kansas.
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