Highway Stop-And-Frisk: How Pennsylvania State Troopers Conduct Illegal Traffic Searches
https://theappeal.org/highway-stop-and- ... -searches/
The Appeal and Spotlight PA reviewed 32 cases from 2016 to 2020 that arose from stops by troopers with the Pennsylvania State Police interdiction unit in Cumberland, Franklin, and Dauphin counties. The news organizations analyzed dozens of affidavits and court documents from the stops, and interviewed researchers who study traffic stops, civil rights attorneys, and police training experts.
In total, eight cases reviewed by The Appeal and Spotlight PA were thrown out in court because of the police’s failure to establish probable cause, while nine more are still active and several have pending motions to suppress. More than a third of the cases have been sealed from public view because the charges were dismissed or withdrawn.
To justify their searches, state police often claimed that a driver was nervous, sweating, or eating. One officer went so far as to say a dollar-sign tattoo on a man’s neck was an indicator of criminal activity that justified detaining him for a K-9 search. Officers also used the same language to justify their stops, no matter the context or circumstances of the arrest, a violation of their training.
Police also held people during traffic stops longer than legally allowed. In one case, a man was held for nearly two hours before he was arrested. Drivers also had little choice in whether to allow police to conduct a search of their cars. In the review of cases, even when drivers had the legal right to deny a search, police still called in K-9 units, which courts have said is not an invasion of privacy.
Maybe not an invasion of privacy, but in Rodriguez v. United States
, 575 U.S. ___ (2015), the SCOTUS held that "a police stop exceeding the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures," and consequently a traffic stop is unlawful if "it is prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete the mission of issuing a ticket for the violation." When the police pull you over for speeding or a broken taillight, they cannot constitutionally hold you any longer than is necessary to give you that ticket. But I guess our State Police here in PA never got that memo.