The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The thin blue line

Matt Oxner was hired by the South Dakota Highway Patrol in the fall of 1999. While on the South Dakota Highway Patrol, Trooper Oxner has seized more than 1,300 pounds of illegal drugs and narcotics and $715,040 in US currency. In 2003, Trooper Oxner received an award in Rapid City for his "Outstanding Achievement in Law Enforcement." Keya is a two year old yellow lab. (Info from SDHP website)

I have heard from four different people who have been busted by Matt Oxner. Their stories were strikingly similar to one another. Oxner's MO seems to be to stop everyone with west coast license plates. After talking to them, if he wants to search their car, he gets Keya out and walks her around the suspect vehicle. He pats a side window and Keya puts her front feet on the window. Oxner then mimics pawing with his hand, and Keya scrapes the window with her paw. Oxner calls that a 'hit' and searches the vehicle.

Occasionally he finds what he wants. Most of the time, I suspect, he finds nothing. The saddest part about this is that the So. Dak. Supreme Court has ruled that it makes no difference. The fact that drug dogs are wrong over half the time makes no difference in the validity of their actions as "articulable suspicion of criminal activity." Anything that a cop calls an "alert" by a dog justifies searching a vehicle.


Anonymous said...

"Outstanding Achievement in Law Enforcement."

IMO it should read..."Outstanding Achievement in wasting tax dollars on the never ending, useless drug war." Or.... "Outstanding Achievement in Drug Warrior constitution shreading at it's best."

Ted G

Bill Fleming said...

Related to this, I got this (see below) in an email from a relative today. So here's my question: What's wrong with this picture?


(Whoever wrote this one deserves a HUGE pat on the back!)

Like most folks in this country, I have a job. I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In order to get that paycheck in my case, I am required to pass a random urine test (with which I have no problem). What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don't have to pass a urine test.

So, here is my Question: Shouldn't one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them?

Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sitting on their ass - doing drugs, while I work. . . . Can you imagine how much money each state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check?

I guess we could title that program, 'Urine or You're Out'.

Pass this along if you agree or simply delete if you don't. Hope you all will pass it along, though. Some thing has to change in this country -- and soon!!!!!!!

My answer? The urine tests and the whole dog and pony fiasco is a joke. A big f*<&ing waste of time, money and energy. And ultimately, a way to turn us all against one another, which some among us are all too happy to do.

Anonymous said...

So four people (the anonymous kind), who have been busted with drugs (so they were breaking the law) "claim" that a person who is trying to protect South Dakota and risks his life every day is mis-using his powers. So criminals are saying that a cop mis-used his power to bust them - not surprised. What's next, the judge who sentenced them was out to get them right...get the tin-foil on your heads because the government is also listening.

I'm all for ending the drug war, but I'm sorry, this is libel bob - to put a highway patrolman's name on your page and then claim that he is violating the law (or at least, the spirit of the law) is nothing short of libel - I hope you don't get sued for this.

Bob Newland said...

Speaking of the "anonymous kind"...

Anonymous said...

Whether the dog finds drugs is irrelevant. When you smell a fart in church is there a turd in the pew? Dogs are trained to respond to odor, not the presence. Folks may have the odor in their clothes and hair, who sat near a smoker at a concert, etc. We sense odors of doughnuts or pizza even when they are not physically present.

The author doesn't understand the law. Oxner & others do, as reflected by court decisions. Abe Lincoln told us the best way to get a bad law struck is to zealously enforce it.

The real problem is US the Supreme Court trashed the Fourth Amendment when it pulled the automobile exigent warrantless search exception out of thin air in 1925, . That court was also enforcing a bad law - prohibition. That court ignored the Founding Fathers knew what a wagon was (or a horse) and knew about mobility, and knew that the sheriff had the same mobility - yet the Founders adopted the Fourth Amendment requiring a warrant (with no exception for stirrups, bridles, reigns, or other means of assisting with quick movement). The Founders knew about smuggling - Washington personally went afield to put down the Whiskey Rebellion.

Anonymous said...

When It's On the Shelf, It's Off the Streets.

The Effects of Drug Decriminalization in Portugal


Bob Newland said...

I hope some folks will read the Washington Post editorial in the preceding comment.

Michael Sanborn said...

Good post Bill. So does is the dope smoking welfare recipient described therein have a right to health care?

And, if we are truly interested in health care, should the government assistance money be used for Kool-Aid, ice cream, potato chips, and other things that cause obesity, clogged arteries, juvenile diabetes?

Right now, you can use that money to buy lobster, crab legs, soda, etc.

On the dog issue...I've been training dogs for years. Labradors, Golden Retrievers,etc. You can train a good Lab or Golden to deal cards if you're patient.

You can also train them to alert, simply by giving them a hand signal. I'd be happy to demonstrate. Some of my dogs (puppies from breedings) have been recruited by Canine Companions for Independence.

A two year old dog, especially Labs and Goldens, can be trained to do stuff way beyond what they learn in drug sniffing training. For instance, the officer can point to a tire and say "find" and the dog will "alert" by the tire.

I've no doubt that Trooper Oxner has found some illegal drugs with his dogs assistance. But juries and judges should know that dogs can learn that they are only rewarded when they "alert" and as such are not reliable. Use of them for this purpose invites incompetence or corruption or both.

Give me three days with a good Lab or Golden, and I'll have him "alerting" when I snap my fingers, raise my voice, blow a whistle a certain way, or simply take off my hat or adjust my belt. And I can do it so that the secret is just between me and the dog.

The window pat described here can be taught in less than an hour, with a piece of bacon. If the dog thinks it gets bacon for scratching the window. And if it happens that he does get a reward once or twice, he'll do it without for the rest of his life.

Bill Fleming said...

"So does is the dope smoking welfare recipient described therein have a right to health care?"

He does if he's in jail, Mike. Or if he's over 65. Or poor. Or a veteran. That's already been established in the law. To thus protect some — but not all — is in violation of the 14th Amendment.

Look at it this way. Should only smart, non-violent people have 2nd Amendment rights?

Bob Newland said...

Bill, I invite you to go to jail and sample the health care provided to prisoners. If you like it, you'll no doubt be happy with whatever "public option" we're provided during the next few years.

Bill Fleming said...

I assume that it's better than nothing, Bob. I also note that it's optional as far as non-prisoners are concerned.

Michael Sanborn said...

So, Bill,
You're okay with having the fruit of your labor paying for health care for able-bodied people who are unwilling to work?

Bill Fleming said...

Yes, of course.