This Dog Can Send You to Jail

How cops and their canines manufacture probable cause

(Page 2 of 4)

But that supposition is impossible to confirm, and it is not even clear what Condon means by “recent contact.” More to the point, the likelihood of actually finding evidence of a crime is the relevant consideration (in Australia as well as the United States) in determining when police may search someone, meaning a dog’s alert can justify a search only if it indicates that drugs are currently present. 

‘They Can Say Whatever They Want to Say’

The issue of what counts as a false alarm is central to Florida v. Harris. The defendant, Clayton Harris, was pulled over twice in 2006 by Officer William Wheetley of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, once for an expired tag and once for a malfunctioning brake light. On both occasions, after Harris declined to let Wheetley search his pickup truck, the officer walked a German shepherd named Aldo around the vehicle. On both occasions, Wheetley reported, Aldo alerted by getting excited and sitting down in front of the driver’s side door handle. And on both occasions, Wheetley searched the truck without finding any substance that Aldo was trained to detect. But during one of the stops, Wheetley found 200 pseudoephedrine tablets, along with other chemicals and supplies used to make methamphetamine, which led to Harris’ arrest. Harris pleaded guilty to possession of a listed chemical with the intent to unlawfully manufacture a controlled substance, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, but reserved the right to challenge the legality of Wheetley’s search.

Since Wheetley did not find any illegal drugs in the truck and Aldo is not trained to detect pseudoephedrine, what are we to make of the alert Wheetley reported? He speculated that Aldo reacted to traces of meth left by Harris’ hand, which might be true. Then again, Aldo might have smelled drug residue left by someone else—perhaps, as Harris’ lawyer suggested, an addict looking for unlocked vehicles with stuff to steal. The dog’s alert does not tell us who left the odor, or even which drug it was. Police dogs generally are trained to detect several substances, and they alert the same way to all of them.

Russ Jones, who worked as a K-9 officer and narcotics detective in San Jose, California, for 10 years and is now a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, notes that the drug-residue excuse is a double-edged sword for police, because it undermines the case for using dog alerts to justify searches. “You’re telling me that my car can be searched because the guy who changed the tires at the tire shop smokes marijuana, and his hands tightened up the lug nuts and put the hub cap back on?” Jones says. “Suppose the UPS guy uses amphetamine or cocaine, and he drops off a book that I ordered from If a dog smells it, that gives you the right to search my home?”

Traces of drugs on the outside of Harris’ truck are not the only possible explanation for the alert Wheetley reported. Perhaps Wheetley, who said Harris seemed nervous and restless, was so sure the guy was up to no good that he misinterpreted Aldo’s behavior. If a dog handler “wants to see the alert,” says Jones, “he sees it.”

Alternatively, Jones says, “because [the handler] feels the guy is guilty, he just says the dog alerted and uses that as a pretext to search.” Myers recalls a case on which he worked as a defense consultant where an officer claimed a dog alerted as he walked it around a suspect’s car. In the dash-cam video of the stop, the dog was not visible, but the officer was. “When I had him questioned about how long it took the dog to alert, he said a few seconds,” Myers says. “So there should have been at least a two-second pause in front of the car. Nope. There was no pause.”

Jeff Weiner, a prominent Florida defense attorney who frequently deals with drug-sniffing dogs, says he commonly sees videos in which “someone will stand in front so you can’t see the dog, and then you’ll hear them say, ‘Oh, the dog just alerted.’ And then they’ll step away.” Weiner adds that many police departments have stopped recording K-9 teams at work “because they realized that the dogs don’t alert when the cops say they alert.” Without video, he says, “they can say whatever they want to say, and there’s no way to challenge it.”

Assuming Aldo really did alert to Harris’ truck, he might have been reacting to Wheetley’s suspicions. “If someone is acting quite twitchy and nervous,” says Myers, “that evokes suspicion on the part of the handler, which evokes certain behaviors that may cause the dog to alert.…I’ve done frame-by-frame analysis of video tapes, and it’s interesting when the handler stops before the dog does. You think it might have been a cue—not necessarily intentional.”

A 2011 study led by the University of California at Davis neurologist Lisa Lit, reported in the journal Animal Cognition, shows how powerful a handler’s cuing of his dog can be. Lit and her colleagues had 18 handlers walk their police dogs through four rooms where they were told drug or explosive scents might be hidden but where in fact there were no target substances to be found. Each team went through each room twice, for a total of 144 sweeps, and generated 225 false alerts. The alerts occurred most frequently near markers that the handlers were told indicated the presence of scents; they were even more likely at those spots than at unmarked locations where the researchers had hidden Slim Jims and new tennis balls as distractions. “Human more than dog influences affected alert locations,” Lit and her colleagues concluded. “This confirms that handler beliefs affect outcomes of scent detection dog deployments.”

‘Searching for Ham Sandwiches’

A few of the handlers in the Lit study admitted they had intentionally pointed their dogs to the marked locations. But for the most part they seem to have communicated their expectations subconsciously, as observers did with Clever Hans, the famous German horse who supposedly could answer arithmetic questions by tapping his hoof. Although it has been more than a century since the psychologist Oskar Pfungst demonstrated that Clever Hans was reacting to the body language of his trainer and audience, the lessons of that episode do not seem to have penetrated most police departments.

Myers and Jones say dogs should be tested in double-blind situations, where neither the handler nor the observer verifying alerts knows whether or where drugs have been hidden. But such tests are the exception rather than the rule. In weekly maintenance training, Myers says, the handler likewise should not know where the drugs are. But “typically if a cop says, ‘I train the dog every week,’ he’s hiding things and then going around and finding the things he’s hidden. Putting something out, you as the handler, then taking the dog through, you are going to seriously skew the training; you’re going to cue. You can’t help it; you know exactly where the damned thing is.”

Even when a handler does not know exactly where the drugs are, his behavior can encourage the dog to alert regardless of what the animal actually smells. Jones says bad handling practices he commonly sees as a consultant include excessive verbal encouragement (“Go find it, boy!”) and giving rewards (praise, toys, dog treats) for alerts whether or not they are accurate. In a 2011 traffic stop that resulted in a fruitless car search and provoked a lawsuit, Collinsville, Illinois, police officer Michael Reichert walked his German shepherd, Macho, around a car and claimed he alerted in the front. Neither Reichert nor the dog can be seen on the dash-cam video at that point, but Reichert can be heard repeatedly urging Macho on and praising him lavishly.

Dogs that are rewarded for unconfirmed alerts may begin responding to the wrong stimuli. A dog “might just be interested in something, which could be seen as a kind of alert by the handler,” says Myers, “so he rewards him for it. And pretty soon he’s going to be searching for ham sandwiches.” 

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  • Sevo||

    "How cops and their canines manufacture probable cause"

    "Hey Bullet, do you smell something? Sure you do Bullet! Good Bullet!"


    Obviously, animals are beings pure of heart who could never have any crass, malicious intent when deciding you have something that smells interesting enough to search your person, house, or car

    We should have criminal courts judged the same way: a jury of dogs, who if they lick their own balls, sentence you to death.

  • SugarFree||

    I'd rather be judged by twelve than leg-humped by six.

  • sarcasmic||

    Worst that could happen when being judged by twelve? Prison.
    Worst that could happen when being leg-humped by six? Protein stains.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm glad I hover over links before clicking (or in this case not clicking) them.

  • Heroic Mulatto||


  • sarcasmic||

    If not wanting to click on something that says "alyssa-rosales-loses-bet-and-dignity- has-sex-with-dog-posts-video-on-facebook- warning-extremely-nsfw/" while at work makes me a pussy, than a pussy I am.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    By pussy, I mean you must be a cat person.

  • sarcasmic||

    By pussy, I mean you must be a cat person.

    As a matter of fact I am. Never had much of a use for dogs.


    "...than a pussy I am


  • Bill Dalasio||

    I knew there'd be an alert around here somewhere!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Until Canine-Americans can be cross-examined in a court of law, the reactions of drug dogs should not be admissible as evidence.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I cannot imagine any conceivable outcome of the War onDrung, even were it effective, that would justify what it has cost us in terms of rights and protections.

  • sarcasmic||

    The purpose of the war on drug users is to get rid of rights and protections, and to establish a police state.

    Remember that the purpose of government is to combat injustice. When there aren't enough criminals to justify the police state, then criminals must be manufactured. Thus the war on drugs, and lately the war on gun owners.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    It might save one child's life.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Tell that to the grieving parents whose children have died, screaming in agony, from emjay overdoses. I'm sure it must happen.

  • AlgerHiss||

    That courts ever allowed this to get to this point is disgusting.

    Still the best words you can utter to any cop is:

    Am I being detained?
    Am I free to go?
    No, you do not have my consent to search anything.

    Repeat over and over and over....then get the Hell away from these monsters.

  • ||

    cue: elephant man

    I am not a MONSTER.

    i am a human being.

    and yes, if you are a felon carrying a firearm, that's a choice arrest, i'll make any day of the week (although philosophically, i have a problem with NON-violent felons losing their right to carry. convicted armed robbers,otoh are predatory scumbags and it's a hella choice arrest to catch one carrying a firearm).

    just as an aside

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    fuck you

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • sarcasmic||

    That's funny!

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    People, it's right there in the Constitution:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Unless you've got a dog, and he barks. Then it's totally OK.

  • Johnimo||

    Yes, Emmerson, it's right there next to the National Problems Amendment: "The Congress and the States shall have the power to make all laws necessary to solve any big problems that the people shall deem to encumber their unfettered happiness."

  • ||

    one of the side effects of our legalization of MJ in WA is that drug dogs are no longer utilizable. since they were trained to hit on marijuana among other drugs, and mj is now LEGAL, a dog "hit" does not = probable cause anymore. this is a wonderful side effect/unintended consequence of the legalization of MJ - drug dog hits no longer lead to probable cause.

    maybe in the future they will train drug dogs to hit on drugs NOT including mj but at least for the foreseeable future, here in libertarian WA (yes, we have a right to privacy in our constitution and our local cops are much more restricted in search and seizure than most other states) no more drug dogs for traffic stops etc.

    they still may be used in search warrants, etc. to help find hidden caches etc. but their use as a DEVELOPER of probable cause is no longer valid.

    booya freedom

  • Capt Ace Rimmer||

    I'm so jealous.

  • ||

    come to WA. between our libertarian state constitution (no pretext stops, no search incident of motor vehicles, severely limited access to curtilage/overhead surveillance by helicopters/use of flir), and initiatives like the legalization of MJ, plus such choice tidbits as NO state income tax, it's a good place to be.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Unless you are a mentally disabled woodworker, or a Mexican. Dunphy's pals love to beat the mexican piss out of people.

  • ||

    yawn. troll-o-meter:.01

    god forbid a cop used some harsh language "mexican piss" with a suspected violent criminal. omg, i'm so offended and it's just such a horrible thing. i hope he recovered from such mean words. i mean, it's such a travesty. "mexican piss". clearly, a term that is only appropriate when referring to corona.

    btw, i am not aware the woodworker was mentally disabled.

    as far as i know he was mentally sound. he was an alcoholic, but that is not a "mental disability".

  • ||

    If in doubt as to mental handicap, it's always best to beat them to death first and ask questions later.

  • Capt Ace Rimmer||

    I might just do that. I have connections with that state and its wise people. My dad actually met my mom in WA. My older brother was born there. My dad was a border agent in WA before he moved to New Orleans, LA to attend law school. Alas, I was born in Louisiana. Help me.

  • Capt Ace Rimmer||

    Drug war is evil.


    Emmerson Biggins| 1.31.13 @ 2:35PM |#

    People, it's right there in the Constitution...

    Uh, "Hellooo?" - that OLD piece of paper, like, written by people with Wigs and Slaves and used Whale Oil as a prime energy source??

    I think its already been clearly established by intelligent, reality-based journalists in objective, non-partisan publications like The New York Times, Slate, The Nation and Mother Jones, that the constitution is no longer relevant to our modern day needs and issues, and its time to Move On!! Stop living in the past! And besides, unless you have something to hide, there's no reason to fear a little dog sniffing your junk... what do you have to hide!?

    /Statist Progtard

  • ||

    inherent in the definition of a search is an incursion into a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. what dogs do is sniff the air OUTSIDE a place where there is a privacy interest. the founders never considered dog sniffs, but they never considered the intertoobs either. there is a difference between looking into a place where there is a privacy interest, and sniffing the air outside same. one could argue that there is no privacy interest in the air outside a motor vehicle for instance.

    of course my state, having a right to privacy, which the federal constitution does not have, takes a different viewpoint. what the federal constitution needs is a right to privacy. the 4th amendment, contrary to some belief, does not protect privacy. it protects against UNreasonable searches and seizures but nowhere mentions privacy. nor, does it require a warrant for searches.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    So if a cop is "pretty sure" you have pot, too bad, you still need consent or a warrant. (I realize that is fiction is anyways, but let's assume it as a hypothetical).

    But if a cop is "pretty sure" that a trained animal is "pretty sure", then you don't need consent or a warrant.

    That is totally sensible.

  • ||

    no, a cop does not need a warrant (in most states) if he has PC for a motor vehicle. it's referred to as the MV exception, established as the Carroll Doctrine iirc and/or under Ross and other SCOTUS caselaw.

    again, a cop (in most states) does not need consent or a warrant to search a motor vehicle (assuming it was stopped on a way, and thus there is exigency because it is a moving conveyance bla bla). he merely needs PC. he can also search incident to arrest

    this is NOT the case here in WA. we need a warrant or consent and cannot search a motor vehicle incident to arrest or based on PC. why? because our state constitution establishes a right to privacy, one that does not exist in the 4th amendment

    this is one reason why... WA is better

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    again, a cop (in most states) does not need consent or a warrant to search a motor vehicle

    as long as that is the case, then ya, all the dog talk is superfluous anyways. To me, that is an unreasonable search and seizure and plain violation of the 4rth.

  • ||

    many agree. unfortunately, the scotus doesn't and it;'s long established caselaw.

    regardless, it aint case law in WA state, which is why i advocate people move here for a more "libertarian experience"

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "one could argue that there is no privacy interest in the air outside a motor vehicle for instance"

    That's not how the dog search is being used. If this is the claim being used, then what a dog smells outside someone's possessions shouldn't mean shit about what is inside that person's possessions. Fuck you and your appeasing approval of shitty precedent.

  • MisterDamage||

    In order for a dog to sniff outside a motor vehicle, the vehicle must be prevented from being driven away while the dog does so. That, right there, is a seizure. One without probable cause due to the fact that the very purpose of the sniff is to create same, literally out of thin air

  • dan'o||

    I was pulled over around midnight roughly an hour north of Las Vegas. After politely refusing a voluntary search, my passenger and I were ordered to stand in the desert ~20 feet off I-15. The motherfucker dropped a Cocker Spaniel INTO my car through an open window. He had the audacity to try and sell me on how the dog was "going nuts" in a vehicle which had never carried an illicit substance. I called his bluff and he eventually sent me on my way.
    The only silver lining came when I was going to file my complaint, and the incident was without record... including the speeding ticket they gave me as a parting fuck you.

  • Tex74||

    I have to say, I'd probably be a libertarian until we started talking about foreign policy and dope. Libertarians love their weed. Point being, this is an issue with a local department and or just a local cop abusing his duties. I've never heard of a "passive" indicator either. Police are not MONSTERS and we couldn't care less if you smoke your weed at the house. This guy should file a complaint at that department so they can scrutinize this cop.

  • sarcasmic||

    Police are not MONSTERS

    Tell you what. Eves drop on some cops who have had a few beers and get back to me.
    If they are anything like the drunk cops I've listened in on, you'll hear excited tips and pointers for choking people, some one-upmanship on injuries inflicted, giggling at someone peeing their pants after putting a gun to their head, and maybe one will complain that he's never had the opportunity to kill someone. En vino veritas.

    Cops are not nice people. They are violent thugs who are always looking for an excuse to hurt someone.

  • ||

    copsw engage in gallows humour just like others in similar profession (e.g. ER docs)

    ime, cops are on the whole, very compassionate , caring NICE people.

    they are engaged in a profession where they, much like ER docs and others who use gallows humour, they are exposed to a violent, seedy, bloody, cynical side of life, and humour, exaggeration, etc. is a defense mechanism, long recognized by psychologist

    when i became a cop i was pleasantly surprised at the routine acts of compassion, heroism, caring, etc, i witnessed and i realized that cops are on the whole, a great group of people i'm proud to work with

  • sarcasmic||

    Complaining about never having the opportunity to kill someone is not humorous.

    Excitedly bragging about putting people into the hospital is not humorous.

    Taking pleasure in choking people is not humorous.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Except for those guys that killed the woodworker out of compassion. Or the guy that got his head smashed in in Belltown compassionately. Or how about those guys that stomped on the Mexican guy's head and shouted racially charged expletives? Guess that's just gallows humor. Or how about the other cops that willfully look the other way when these things happen or do nothing to intervene?

  • DJK||

    Exposed to violence, my ass. The vast majority of police officers are mainly engaged in shit like ticketing speeders and handing out minor consumption tickets. Even these motherfuckers carry loaded pistols at all times.

  • sarcasmic||

    Even these motherfuckers carry loaded pistols at all times.

    Of course they do. Most of what they do is immoral. Lawful, but immoral. People are justified in feeling outrage when someone commits an immoral act. Thus the motherfuckers carry loaded pistols to protect themselves from those who may be justifiably outraged at their immoral acts.

  • DJK||

    Also, if I remember correctly, cops don't even come close to cracking the list of people working in the most dangerous jobs in the US. They fall behind truck drivers, machine operators, etc. Spare me the danger bullshit.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Dunphy, I've met a few cops like you. Great guys, genuinely care, sorry when they're wrong. Unfortunately, all of the cops I've dealt with in an official capacity have been exactly the opposite.

    I once had about 15 cops show up and my house in the middle of the night, drag my friends and I out into the cold (wouldn't let us retrieve our jackets), threaten that we were all going to jail, handcuffed us in the back of cop cars while they searched the property (claiming they had PC for a search). It was 1 1/2 hours into this fiasco before they even told us why they were there. Apparently some local girl went missing and my friends car fit the description of the vehicle she was last seen in. (a 1989 brown Grand Am. real rare car, I know). We were grilled for 5 hours, manhandled, and humiliated. When they didn't find anything, they threatened us with prison for "obstructing justice" and even started moving the car like they were driving us in. They eventually let us all go and left, but insisted until they left that we were all kidnappers/rapists/murderers.

    When I tried to file a complaint, I was threatened again and subsequently harrased. No one cared that my civil rights had been shit on or that these cops were out of control. They all just circled the wagons and treated ME like the criminal.

  • sarcasmic||

    Dunphy, I've met a few cops like you. Great guys, genuinely care, sorry when they're wrong. Unfortunately, all of the cops I've dealt with in an official capacity have been exactly the opposite.

    I'll bet that if you met those "great guys" in an "official capacity", you'd find that they're no different than the rest.


    when i became a cop i was pleasantly surprised at the routine acts of compassion, heroism, caring, etc, i witnessed and i realized that cops are on the whole, a great group of people i'm proud to work with

    my only time spent in a jail cell was a result of a cop at the end of a shift looking for *anything* to throw at someone, who illegally searched everyone and the vehicle sans cause, and only busted a passenger (me) who had the audacity to refuse personal search... upon finding nothing on me (after cuffing and de-panting) ...he still stuck me for the 'possession' of weed he'd found under the seat of the car owner.

    why? dunno. i suppose he let the actual guy responsible walk with the message, "the real crime is pretending to have rights, so bend over when told". it was informative. as was the 3 hours of overtime he clocked watching tv with me shackled to a bench

    a 'few bad apples', im sure. The rest are all saints.


    p.s. he found weed AFTER i was cuffed. my crime was 'failure to comply to arbitrary commands'

    pps i beat the shit out of the actual weed-owner later. it didnt really make me happier. he was a dick anyway. he was just giving me a ride home.

  • Meerkatx||

    I guess Kelly Thomas was beat to death because beating a mentally ill man to death is compassionate.

  • ||

    The way Donna Watts was treated by Miami police is a prime example of how nice police are. They harassed a fellow officer just because she busted a cop.

  • ||

    No, libertarians love not sending people to jail (and subsequently wasting hundreds of millions of tax dollars to keep them there) for victimless crimes. Go back to FreeRepublic.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Or back to Volokh with their completely amoral jacking off about mundane precedent where they "value his expertise" in matters not concerned with the morality of the shit he does.

  • Tex74||

    Oh and as far as the title of this article "This dog can send you to jail". It's your dope that sends you to jail, not the dog.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    no, it's the police that send you to jail. And it's the prison guards and locked doors that keep you there.

  • ||

    ultimately, its the law that sends you there. the police didn't write the drug laws. the legislature did.

    in our state, we have at least ended the war on mj via citizen initiative, but the blame for the war on drugs rests with the lawmakers who made it law in the first place. i'd much prefer not having to enforce drug laws, but i didn't write the evil war on drug laws.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    You keep telling yourself that. It's probably necessary for your sanity.

  • ||

    not at all. it's called rule of law. it's a fact, not arguable, that cops didn't write the drug laws.

    im happy to work in a state that has legalized mj, but i certainly am not going to take blame for a war on drugs that i did not start. on rare occasion, i have to enforce drug laws. like i said, my state is libertarian enough where we aren't doing searches of MV's etc. very often and thus not finding "hard drugs" very often, but i accept rule of law means that i have to enforce laws i don't agree with.

    blame the legislature. they created the war on drugs

  • Tex74||

    It's amazing how little people know about their own government. I have to explain (as I'm sure you have) all the time how our government works to people. Cops don't make the law, we enforce it as a part of the executive branch. Politicians pass law as a part of the legislative branch. Blame your politician if you don't like the law and vote for one that represents you best. And if you still don't like it, move somewhere else.

  • DJK||

    The Nuremberg defense. Love it.

  • sarcasmic||

    "Befehl ist Befehl"

  • DJK||

    Tex, can you please explain the nature of American government to me? Isn't it true that it was found on the notion that majorities shouldn't have the ability to trample on the rights of minorities simply because they got the votes to do so? How does this square with your advice to get enough legislators to do my bidding?

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    It's amazing how pointing out simple facts like "enforcing law = sending people to jail (sometimes)" results in defensive patronizing bloviating from people who wish to abandon their status as sentient beings so that they can avoid the feeling that they are morally responsible for their own actions.

  • Capt Ace Rimmer||

    You have a duty to arrest and I have a duty to disobey. Such is life.

  • willfullyemployed||

    we seem to leave out important factors, such as checks and balances. Our ledislatures can create what ever Law they can muster up, Our court system is the checker of constitutionallity of the Laws. Our Law enforcement agents are not part of the executive branch, they are employees that are entrusted with carring out orders in a lawful and strickly documented manner.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    I never argued that cops wrote the laws. I only pointed out the plain fact that they enforce them. It's kind of like arguing that water is wet ... I dunno what else I can say about it.

    What you see in Rorschach blotch after that is up to you.

  • Meerkatx||

    You're right it's the law. If the cops had their way they would just shoot most people.

  • DenverJay||


  • ||

    McGruff the Crime Dog sez: Help us take a Bite out of the Fourth Amendment, kids!

  • sarcasmic||


  • ||

    McDunphy Teh Supertrooper sez: Laws are Lulz n I swore to uphold and support the law take a huge shit on ur civil liberties.

  • DenverJay||

    My "this" was directed at "no, it's the police that send you to jail. And it's the prison guards and locked doors that keep you there."

  • DenverJay||

    Oh, and for Tex74, you swore to uphold the constitution. You have a legal and moral obligation to NOT enforce unconstitutional laws, which I consider the WOD to be. I mean, if we needed an amendment to prohibit alcohol, why can the government outlaw MJ? So don't give me any of that Nazi "we were just following orders" bullshit

  • RandomJackass||

    So these judges advocating for the "warrant on a leash" are basically saying that a canine with minimal training is just as qualified to establish probable cause as a human judge with years of schooling and experience. That actually makes sense.

  • sarcasmic||

    Warrants are pretty much rubber stamped anyway, so what's the difference?

  • DenverJay||

    Ja, but ve must follow the proper procedures, nien?

  • Dan||

    Warrants are rubber stamped but only because the officers claim to have probable cause. When that probable cause is later found to be fabricated the warrant is invalidated and the results of the search inadmissable.

    That doesn't exist with the dogs. If they alert (or someone claims they did) that is sufficient for a warrantless search the validity of which can never be questioned. At least that's how the supreme court sees it.

  • Lincoln||

    Sounds like the nation's very own Stop-and-Frisk . . .

  • Semper||

    Who needs dogs? Me at the airport this morning while being fondled "do you have a warrant for that". Blueshirt Thug: No sir, this is a warrentless search".
    Hell, in NY they don't even have to talk to you, they can just do as they please.
    Laws are for the little people, not for the rulers.

  • Public Citizzen||

    The question comes immediately to mind how this officer determined that the dog gave a passive alert. What was the ~exact~ signal?
    What level of training does the handler have? How long has he worked with this particular animal? What percentage of "alerts" by this team of dog/handler have resulted in a positive search [defined as recovering prohibited drugs].
    How often has the dog "alerted" for something like a ham sandwich?
    I want to see the dog that won't at least pause for a second whiff of a Lebanon Bologna.

  • ||

    The question comes immediately to mind how this officer determined that the dog gave a passive alert. What was the ~exact~ signal?

    The lack of signal is exactly the passive alert.

  • DenverJay||

    If you were stupid enough to smell like bologna, then you can't expect the authorities to treat you kindly! I mean, its your own damn fault! BTW, anybody who eats bologna deserves to be treated like a criminal, that shit is nasty

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  • Dan||

    The excuses for why they falsely alert are nonsense. They've done dozens and dozens of studies now in controlled environments with known variables and found dogs to be no more reliable than flipping a coin.

    And that's just talking about the honest failure rate of the dogs themselves. It doesn't acount for all of the corrupt police that train their dogs to alert on command, or who claim their dog alerted when it never did.

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  • theforester||

    SCOTUS is hard to figure out. This case seems to be cut and dry--no reasonable suspicion, no search warrant, just a dog's "alerting." Appears to be really damaging to the 4th Amendment. And then there's the whole inability to cross-examine the "witness."

  • URDRWHO10||

    Over breakfast this morning I was just thinking about dogs, traffic stops and loss of freedom.

    What got me thinking was how we accept inconveniences today that in the 60's when I was in school were only a portrait of Nazi Germany.

    I remember seeing the films about Nazi Germany and how they controlled people. I remember seeing the police dogs that were used, the stops where you were asked to show papers. Today we have police dogs that sniff us without regard to individual freedom. We are stopped without reason at DUI traffic stops and we all accept it. At the heart is the idea that it keeps us safe but disregards the heart of America, freedom. Freedom and its deep roots are withering and people are giving it all up for the shadowy figure called safety. The problem is in the future, once that shadow figure comes into clear view we will see a devil in disguise. Society will be chained to a devil that it never picked and freedom will be dead.

    It is the weak that do not stand up against this sort of nonsense where an officer can keep you detained by the actions of a canine. It is the weak that support roadside checkpoints.

    America, the experiment was grand but I fear it is over.

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  • Gd86||

    The United States Supreme Court recently decided Jardines. March 26, 2013 United States Supreme Court ruled that the dog sniff conducted on the porch at the front door of a home constituted a search which would require probable cause and a warrant to lawfully conduct. Although there are a few narrow exceptions, Under the fourth amendment of the United States Constitution a warrantless search conducted on a home is an unreasonable search. It is the very type of unreasonable government intrusion of privacy that stands at the core of the fourth amendment.

    The court finally recognized the degree of intrusiveness involved with a "dog sniff" search at a home. If you saw a house in your neighborhood surrounded by law enforcement both federal and state, and there was a narcotics canine with its handler at the door would you automatically assume that whoever lives there committed a crime?
    If the USSC didn't rule that it was a search, who's to stop law enforcement from arbitrarily conducting these searches on a whim or whenever they feel like it? I think the USSC absolutely got this one right despite the close split decision.

  • alaamiah||

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