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Federal Judge Rules Against 'Kansas Two-Step' Highway-Patrol Tactic

A federal judge ruled that the Kansas Highway Patrol cannot detain out-of-state drivers long enough to find a reason to search their vehicles for illegal drugs, the AP reports. In July, the tactic known as the “Kansas Two-Step” was determined to violate drivers’ constitutional rights against unreasonable searches. And on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn H. Vratil granted a permanent injunction against the practice. The injunction mandates cameras and audio for all marked and unmarked patrol cars along with better training and documentation. Troopers are also required to inform drivers that they can refuse or revoke consent for a search at any time.


With the “Two-Step,” troopers finish the initial traffic stop, issuing a ticket or a warning, and start to walk away, then turn back to talk more to the driver. That allows them to keep looking for grounds for a vehicle search or to buy time for drug-sniffing dogs to arrive. The American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of three drivers and two passengers traveling in 2017, 2018 and 2019 from neighboring Colorado, which has legalized recreational marijuana use. The judge concluded that the patrol targeted drivers traveling along Interstate 70 to or from states that have legalized either the medical or recreational use of marijuana. Kansas has authorized neither.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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