Since its start in 2001, the Summer Camp Music Festival, held in Chillicothe, IL, has been providing good music and great times to concert-goers from across the country. Unfortunately, these good times come to an abrupt halt for a choice few of the roughly 15,000 attendees each year because of drug arrests that occur in the surrounding area of Three Sisters Park, the festival’s home.
In 2012, 290 people were arrested in association with the event, many for misdemeanor and felony drug possession. In this year’s event, and in 2013, the numbers were similar. But perhaps the most telling statistic is that attendees of Summer Camp are much more likely to be arrested on the way to the festival than inside of the park’s grounds. Of the 290 arrests in 2012, only 47 occurred inside of Three Sisters Park. Area rest stops seem to be the prime location for these incidents to occur.
It is important to know that in Illinois, a free-air sniff by a police dog (even without reasonable suspicion) is not unlawful. This means that it is perfectly legal for a police officer to walk a drug sniff dog around a rest stop and wait for the dog to “hit.” However, this does not mean that every drug stop made by police in accord with the Summer Camp Music Festival is a lawful one. In 2012, several arrests were quashed because the police improperly used a “decoy” vehicle along the roadside. The vehicle’s emergency lights were flashing, and any driver who passed the vehicle could be pulled over for passing an emergency vehicle. Many of the arrests have also been defended as entrapment by police officers.
As with any music festival, Summer Camp brings a slew of recreational drugs into the central Illinois area. While police have a responsibility to enforce traffic and safety laws, officers must work within their bounds, and cannot infringe upon an individual’s 4th Amendment prohibition of unreasonable search and seizure rights. An attorney can properly guide an individual through his or her constitutional rights, both at the state and federal level, to ensure that he or she has been treated fairly and in accordance with the law.
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