It is unconstitutional for police to use use the heat signatures of homes to detect and raid houses suspected of growing marijuana. Ex-cop and now “Kop Buster” Barry Cooper believed that officers were still using the technology and lying on affidavits to secure search warrants. To test the theory, he rented a house in Odessa, Texas and set up some heat lights to grow Christmas trees. Sure enough, he claims, the cops showed up shortly after they threw the switch on the lamps with a warrant that he claims must have been the result of false sources (used to disguise the use of the cameras).
It is hard to determine the validity of these claims, but (if true) this would be sheer genius. Cooper is a bit controversial. He has a series of tapes called Never Get Busted Again and he has been the bane of the existence of police.
The police were met in the house by cameras streaming the entire thing on to the web. For raw video of the raid, click here.
For a video interview and story, click here.
In Kyllo v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that the use of thermal imagery devices violated the fourth amendment. The decision was written Justice Scalia.
Defense attorneys have long complained that officers routinely hide illegal conduct by falsifying affidavits. More importantly, some judges often do little to question the basis (or even read) the affidavits. I had a case out of New York where the affidavit actually included material cut and pasted from another case. The language made no sense in the case but the judge never even noticed (or presumably read) the affidavit. Obviously, if Cooper is proven correct, the responsible officers signed a false sworn statement and should be prosecuted.
Police are increasingly purchasing binoculars with Thermal FLIR capabilities — making it very easy to conduct unlawful surveillance and then finding a later excuse of isolating the home.