MILITARY BASE ENTRY SEARCH FOR CONTRABAND AT A NO -PUBLIC GATE WAS VALID
A military entry base search of a car at a contractor entry gate that produced a small quantity of marijuana was a valid area entry search. No matter what theory is applied, the military has a compelling interest in keeping drugs off a base. United States v. Gallock, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87512 (E.D. Cal. November 20, 2007):
The search here is no different in principle from other types of "entry point" searches whether or not the administrative search is justified with an implied consent. In either case, the scope of the search cannot exceed the purpose for which the warrantless search is justified. United States v. Bulacan, 156 F.3d 963, 968 (9th Cir. 1998) ("The scheme is only valid if 'the search serves a narrow but compelling administrative objective,' and 'the intrusion is as limited….as is consistent with satisfaction of the administrative need that justifies [it].'") Even the government appeared to concede at oral argument that the military police would be hard pressed to utilize their checkpoint to search for evidence of private party stock insider trading, a crime with no general relation to Air Force activities. As is the case in many areas of criminal law, a rule of reason must be employed even for exceptions to the search-with- warrant requirement. Morgan, 323 F.3d at 781. And, the military entry point search must be limited to those areas of the person or vehicle likely to conceal the contraband prohibited from the base.
Defendant's error is in assuming that if a check for weapons alone is the rule for government buildings, Bulacon, supra, thus it must be the rule for military bases as well. The undersigned has seen no authority for such a narrow proposition, and the case law permits different search scopes, even based on dual purposes, depending on the nature of the checkpoint. See e.g., United States v. Soto-Camacho, 58 F. 3d 408 (9th Cir. 1995) (border checkpoint search based on need to ascertain immigration status and need to thwart drug trafficking upheld).
The local Air Force regulation governing the scope of the search permits military police to conduct entry point searches "to deter theft of government property and to prevent the transportation of contraband onto and off the installation." BABI31-101, 14 May 2002, § 188.8.131.52, Govt. Exhibit 3. See also AFI 31-201, § 5.2: "Controlling entry to the installation is a fundamental security police task. We control entry…to help protect the resources entrusted to the Air Force." However, although "contraband" is a broad word, it cannot exceed the scope of items which would in some way significantly disrupt the functioning of the airbase.
The court need not stretch to understand that the Air Force has a legitimate and compelling interest in keeping controlled substances off its premises.
Egloff v. New Jersey Air Nat. Guard, 648 F. Supp. 1275, 1280 (D.N.J. 1988). Air Force functions at a base such as Beale include flight, ground control and maintenance of aircraft and other sophisticated equipment. Training with dangerous weapons takes place. Private contractors assist the Air Force in its mission. Air Force bases and use of controlled substances thereon are incompatible in terms of the danger to mission, life, and property which would be risked by application of civilian controlled substance probable cause search rules to entry points on these insular bases. Nor must the Air Force implement a plethora of different rules and standards for checkpoint searches depending on the sophistication of every job, for employees working those jobs, which takes place on an Air Force base. Such would be unworkable.
Whatever "contraband" may be beyond the proper scope of an entry point search at a military base, controlled substances fall far short of that outside parameter. Upon entering the base at Beale, defendant impliedly consented to a search of his vehicle, including the center console and items such as the eyeglass case contained therein. The scope of the search was reasonable.