Traffic stop turns into drug bust

By Kevin Burrows
Lansing Township News staff writer

LANSING TOWNSHIP- At 2:30 p.m., in early March, Lansing Township Lt. Sandy Lantz was patrolling the after school traffic on Michigan Ave. next to Waverly Elementary School, when she stopped a van going 50 mph in a 25 mph school zone.

“As I started to flash my lights, I saw the driver reaching over to the passenger side of the car, and moving stuff around in the backseat,” said Lantz.

The speed limit goes from 35 mph, to 25 mph in a short amount of time, said Lantz.

“I wouldn’t say it is a hot spot for pulling people over, but since it is a school where several of the children walk to school, the officers place an emphasis on traffic patrol to slow down traffic to keep the kids and the crossing guard safe,” said Lansing Township Chief, Kay Hoffman, via e-mail. “The school, which has 5th and 6th graders, is on a four lane roadway that is heavily traveled by residents and commuters.”

“When I began to pull over the driver, he didn’t stop at first,” said Lantz. “He ended up going to the far East parking lot of the school before pulling over.”

After pulling over the speeding car, Lantz approached the car asking the driver basic questions about why he was speeding.

“On the floor below the driver I noticed syringes,” said Lantz. “I then asked the driver if he had anything illegal in the car, and denied that he did.”

After having the driver step out of the car, Lantz searched the car for illegal substances.

“I found two mason jars of marijuana, 30 individual bags of baked goods that contained marijuana, and two other containers that had marijuana,” said Lantz. “Everything was taken from the scene for investigation.”

This isn’t the largest amount of drugs we’ve seen in a traffic stop, although we hardly ever seen drugs used in edible form, according to Hoffman.

After searching the car, and finding the marijuana, the driver pulled out a marijuana medical card as his excuse, according to Lantz.

“The law is very vague, so I wasn’t sure on the amount of marijuana you were allowed to have for a medical condition,” said Lantz. “Therefore I didn’t put him in physical custody. Instead I submitted the report to the prosecutor’s office for further investigation.”

Once a report is submitted to the prosecutor’s office, one to two prosecutors go through the case and determine if a warrant needs to be issued, according to Scott Hughes, Ingham County prosecutor’s office. If so, they process the police’s request, and notify the suspect that he must turn himself in, or a warrant will be issued for his arrest.

“If someone has an application that has been submitted they can claim an affirmative defense,” said Hoffman. “Officers can use their discretion to or not to make a physical arrest in certain investigations; often it is to do additional follow-up investigation or submit evidence to the crime lab for analysis.”