Handling Traffickers on State Highways

Interstate 41 is a major thoroughfare for people to get from the Fox Valley area down to Milwaukee and even Chicago – but there are also people coming the other way. While most travelers have legitimate reasons to make the drive, there are some that may have less than legal intentions. State Patrol Sergeant Luke Newman says any stop he makes could quickly become a bigger case than a simple broken taillight or speeding violation. 

Newman says “really you deal with it on a daily basis with any vehicle you stop or come in contact with. You know, that’s one of our main goals too is criminal highway interdiction. So we’ve trained all of our officers to look for indicators of criminal activity that’s going up and down the highway.”

He adds that “they all stem from a traffic stop. They have a taillight out or they
were speeding or whatever the reason they got stopped for – it could be
something as simple as not having a front license plate on, which people don’t
think of.”

Newman tells us if he is suspicious of a driver – he will usually issue a citation or a warning, followed up by a question. He explains after handing them the ticket, “you can ask them ‘is there anything in the vehicle that is illegal or anything like that?’ They say nope – and then ‘ok would you mind if I searched it?’- and they can either say no, and I’m like ‘ok, carry on your way’ or ‘yeah, you can look through it’. Obviously if we do any kind of searching we have another officer with us, because if we’re searching a vehicle, we can’t be watching the person as well as searching the vehicle.”

He points out that officers may ask to search a vehicle if a drivers story doesn’t add up, like saying they are traveling with no luggage – or they may request a search if there are drugs within view or the scent of drugs in the vehicle.