N.D.Iowa: Calling for drug dog whose sniff didn’t extend stop at all was reasonable

Calling for a drug dog during processing the paperwork of a traffic stop that produced a dog sniff before the stop was over was reasonable. United States v. Harry, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174689 (N.D. Iowa Oct. 23, 2017), adopted, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187613 (N.D. Iowa Nov. 14, 2017):

There is no significant difference between Officer Fickett’s actions in Guidry and Deputy Kearney’s actions in the case at hand. After returning to his vehicle with the defendant’s license, Officer Fickett immediately suspended the mission of the traffic stop in order to call for a canine unit. Deputy Kearney similarly suspended his mission, however, because Deputy Kearney had a canine in his vehicle, he was not required to call for a canine unit and simply conducted the search himself. Under both circumstances, the officers’ conduct was reasonable.

The duration of the unrelated dog sniff was also reasonable as it did not “measurably extend” the duration of the traffic stop. See Johnson, 555 U.S. at 333. See also United States v. Hill, 852 F.3d 377, 382 (4th Cir. 2017) (two-minute pause in purpose of stop to search additional database was not unreasonable); United States v. Roberts, 687 F.3d 1096, 1099 (8th Cir. 2012) (“Following a traffic stop, police officers may conduct “a number of routine but somewhat time-consuming tasks related to the traffic violation, such as computerized checks of the vehicle’s registration and the driver’s license and criminal history, and the writing up of a citation or warning.”) (internal quotation omitted); United States v. Williams-Davis, No. 2:14-CR-04072-SRB-1, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152263, 2015 WL 6942499, at *2 (W.D. Mo. Nov. 10, 2015) (two-minute pause to conduct dog sniff does not violate Rodriguez). Deputy Kearney returned to his patrol vehicle with defendant’s license at 12:51:45 p.m. He exited the vehicle with the canine one minute later, and the canine hit on the vehicle at 12:53:17 p.m. Thus, just two and a half minutes passed between the time that Deputy Kearney “paused” the mission of the traffic stop and the time that the canine hit on the vehicle, giving rise to reasonable suspicion which authorized any further detention of defendant. This interruption in the processing of defendant’s traffic warning did not measurably extend the duration of the traffic stop beyond the time reasonably required to complete the mission of the stop and therefore, did not constitute an unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. Defendant’s interpretation of Rodriguez would require officers who pulled over a car for speeding to proceed with the processing of the ticket in a single-minded mission without the slightest delay or diversion into other possible criminal violations. The Fourth Amendment is not so rigid.

Defendant argues that the amount of time that passed “has no bearing on the Rodriguez analysis.” (Doc. 53-1, at 5). However, courts that have decided cases under Rodriguez consistently examine the duration of the delay to determine the reasonableness of an unrelated investigation. See e.g., Hill, 852 F.3d at 382 (two-minute delay “does not support an inference that the stop was extended unlawfully”); United States v. Petrakis, No. 3:15-CR-17-J-32JRK, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125531, 2016 WL 5341992, at *21 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 15, 2016) (Rodriguez not violated when total duration of stop remains reasonable); United States v. Smith, No. 2:16-CR-0020-DN, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124158, 2016 WL 4761315, at *6 (D. Utah Sept. 12, 2016) (denying motion to suppress when officer “ran the dog within the time it would reasonably take to complete the traffic stop”). An analysis that disregards the amount of time an officer spends on unrelated inquiries, would preclude officers from ever calling for a canine unit because even a twenty-second “pause” in pursuing the mission of the traffic stop, to call for a canine unit, would be unconstitutional. The holding in Illinois v. Caballes, that officers may conduct unrelated canine sniffs during a traffic stop, would essentially be rendered moot, as no officer would ever be able to discuss a canine sniff with his partner or place a call to request a canine without violating the Fourth Amendment. See Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U.S. 405, 409, 125 S. Ct. 834, 160 L. Ed. 2d 842 (2005). If an officer may pause the processing of a ticket long enough to call for a canine officer, a task that reasonably may take a few minutes, there is no principled way to distinguish that conduct for an equally short pause for the officer to conduct the canine sniff when, as here, the officer is a canine officer.

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