New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, certainly generates more than its fair share of odd stories given its relatively light population base, and for some reason the oddest ones occur near my scheduled trips to the state. I was there a couple weeks ago and will be returning again immediately following the national workers' comp conference in Las Vegas. I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty.

My driving habits will be impeccable.

No fewer than two drivers have been stopped in the southwest part of the state for minor traffic infractions, only to be taken against their will to a medical clinic and detained for up to 12 hours. There they endured repetitive anal cavity searches for drugs. One man, named David Eckert, was digitally probed two times, X-rayed twice, given three (three!!!!) enemas and then a colonoscopy.

No drugs were found. And he received a $6,000 bill from the medical clinic for their “services”.

Thank God they didn't resort to prying him open with a crowbar.

All of this happened because he allegedly rolled through a stop sign leaving a Walmart in Deming, NM. Officers told him he appeared to be standing funny, as if he was keeping his butt cheeks clenched. If he knew what was coming, I'm sure that would be the case. After obtaining a court order, they took him to one hospital, which refused to conduct the cavity search on ethical grounds. The second medical facility had no such qualms, and as evidenced previously, was very thorough – although I am not sure what they thought they were missing the first 7 times around.

Another man was stopped in Lordsburg, NM for failing to use his turn signal, and received pretty much the same treatment at the same medical facility. Lordsburg is best known for having the first airport in New Mexico, and was one of the stops on Charles Lindbergh’s transcontinental “Spirit of Saint Louis” air tour. Today it is the place where I-10 travelers stop and use the bathroom, and where a Dairy Queen owner was murdered in 1981 by one of my former Boy Scout Troop mates. An Eagle Scout he wasn't. But I digress….

At the center of both cases is a doofus police dog named Leo, whose trigger happy nose apparently smells drugs everywhere. In the Lordsburg case Leo apparently signaled he smelled drugs on the driver's seat. I would suggest he thought he also smelled them IN the driver's seat, as that man was treated to anal exams and x-rays just as Mr. Eckert was. The dog is not certified by the state, but continues to be used by local law enforcement agencies in the area. This canine Barney Fife was at one time certified, but said certification lapsed over two years ago. Eckert's attorney has indicated she has ample evidence that Leo has had a number of false positive indications in similar cases.

I would suggest perhaps Leo should be reassigned to a cushy desk job, one where he could do less harm to people's lives.

Can you imagine, if one of these men was driving a company vehicle, the problems that both they and their employers could have faced? New Mexico is replete with many energy industry related trucks that routinely travel its vast and often barren landscape. If these stops had been performed on one of those vehicles, what would have the consequences been?

Mr. Eckert has filed suit against a number of entities and people involved in this case. He is apparently seeking millions in damages.  I am not a litigious person, and need to be pushed to great lengths to consider legal actions, but to be quite honest, I do not blame him. If it were me, I would sue everyone involved. I would sue the police agencies and their governmental overlords. I would sue the medical facility. I would sue the doctors and the officers. I would sue their bosses. I would sue their mothers. I would sue their bosses' mothers. And their mothers' bosses. I would sue the pants off everyone, which is ironic considering the event was based on pants being off in the first place. This sounds to me as complete overkill; an egregious violation of a person's constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure. I recognize we no longer use the Constitution, but still, be reasonable man.

Fortunately my New Mexico trip will involve traveling to the northwest corner of the state, far from Leo with his poorly calibrated nose and his handlers with their poorly calibrated comportment. Still, the knowledge that this could happen to anyone will keep me on the straight and narrow as I navigate my way out of the Albuquerque Sunport. Just to be safe, I will be certain to load up on cruciferous vegetables and onion dip the night before. That would give Leo and his adenoids a run for their money; a just revenge for the gland of entrapment in the Land of Enchantment.

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