Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 24, 2018

Students cited for tobacco, liquor

Deputies conduct open air search with K9
Apr 26, 2018

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


WELLMAN — According to the Washington County call log, there were four incidents Wednesday where students at Mid-Prairie High School were cited by the Washington County Sheriff’s office for possession of tobacco or possession of alcohol in their vehicles.

The log said at 9:39 a.m. an officer reported being out at Mid-Prairie High School with a student in possession of tobacco in a vehicle.

A juvenile was cited for possession of tobacco under the legal age. Another juvenile was cited at 9:47 a.m. for the same offense.

At 10:09 a.m. a juvenile was cited for possession of tobacco under the legal age second offense and possession of alcohol under the legal age.

At 10:16 a.m. Jason Michael Tew, 18, of Kalona, was cited for possession of alcohol under legal age after alcohol was discovered in his vehicle.

Washington County Sheriff’s Department chief deputy Shawn Ellingson said today that the tobacco and alcohol were located during a K-9 sweep of the Mid-Prairie High School parking lot.

He said that through the investigation of some K-9 alerts, the other items were located. He said that sheriff’s department K9s aren’t trained specifically to sniff out either tobacco or alcohol.

“There were no charges for any kind of drugs,” he said. “While we were on the scene we came across these other things. We didn’t go there for alcohol or tobacco, it just happened that while we were there, the school happened to come across these other things and we dealt with them.”

Ellingson explained that the city and county have both run checks on school property for quite some time.

He said that when vehicles are parked on public property, such as a school parking lot or a public street, the police have the authority to do an “open-air search.”

Dog sniffs around the perimeter of the car are usually permissible with very little justification.

If the dog alerts, that would usually give the police probable cause to search a vehicle. Sometimes a dog will false alert for a variety of reasons.

In 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the police need a warrant to use drug-sniffing dogs outside of a private residence without a warrant. Public property is another matter as there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Ellingson also said an open air search can be done at a business where the owner gives permission.

“Typically high schools call and request us,” Ellingson said. “We aren’t out there trying to drum up business. Usually the schools get ahold of us and ask us. It is a deterrent to let people know we are trying to keep a grasp on what is going on. Obviously we hope no kids get busted but it is good for them to know we are going to do it once in a while.”


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