This Dog Can Authorize Anal Probes

Yesterday Brian Doherty noted a federal lawsuit by a New Mexico man, David Eckert, who was forcibly subjected to anal probings, stomach X-rays, enemas, and a colonoscopy because police officers who pulled him over for a rolling stop suspected he had drugs hidden inside of him. No drugs were found. Now KOB, the Albuquerque TV station that reported Eckert's story, has discovered another motorist who was forced to undergo a similarly rigorous search of his digestive tract after being stopped for a minor traffic violation. According to police reports, Timothy Young was pulled over for failing to signal a turn and ended up exposed to the prying hands and eyes of cops and doctors acting on their behalf. Again, no drugs were found. In both cases, KOB reports, the same police dog, Leo, triggered these intimate examinations by alerting to the driver's car seat. It turns out that Leo is not so good at identifying vehicles (or people) containing drugs:

[Leo] seems to get it wrong pretty often. He might be getting it wrong because he's not even certified in New Mexico.

If you take a look at the dog's certification, the dog did get trained. But his certification to be a drug dog expired in April 2011. K-9s need yearly re-certification courses, and Leo is falling behind.

"We have done public requests to find anything that would show this dog has been trained, we have evidence that this dog has had false alerts in the past," Eckert's attorney Shannon Kennedy said.

According to the Supreme Court, none of this necessarily disqualifies Leo as an informant reliable enough to obtain a warrant authorizing the sort of humiliating searches that Eckert and Young underwent. Last February the justices unanimously ruled that "a court can presume" an alert by a drug-sniffing dog provides probable cause for a search "if a bona fide organization has certified a dog after testing his reliability in a controlled setting" or "if the dog has recently and successfully completed a training program that evaluated his proficiency in locating drugs." In practice, this means that if police say a dog is properly trained, they can get a search warrant based on nothing more than the animal's purported alert, and that search will be upheld unless a defendant can present evidence showing the dog is unreliable. Police need not produce (or even keep) data on the dog's actual performance in the field, evidence the Court deemed inferior to the results of tests in a "controlled" (i.e., rigged) setting.

Hence if it turns out that Leo's alerts frequently lead to fruitless searches, that does not necessarily mean he will be deemed unreliable, even if he is wrong more often than he is right (which is often the case with drug-detecting dogs). According to police (and the Supreme Court, which essentially has adopted their point of view), dogs that seem to be making mistakes may actually be alerting to traces of drugs so minute that their existence cannot be confirmed. Hence you can never definitively say that a police dog erred, even though there are many possible sources of error, including distracting smells and conscious or subconscious cues by handlers. Not to mention the fact that cops who want to search someone can always falsely claim a dog alerted. The upshot is that if a cop wants to explore a motorist's anus, stomach, intestines, and feces, all he needs is a dog and a judge who takes to heart the Supreme Court's unjustified faith in canine capabilities.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    What the hell kind of dog is that? Its hideous. Filthy creatures.

  • fish||

    Probably a Malinois...wonderful animal! Good with children....not generally known to be ass freaks until they enter law enforcement though...!

  • Paul.||

    Funny story:

    We had a bunch of consultants from India here at the location where I work. On their first day, the "Therapy Dog Handler" came through with "rocky the therapy dog' who, while quite well behaved, gets very excited when he comes into the IT area because he gets a lot of love.

    I kept watching our Indian brothers to see what their reaction would be (as in Hindu culture, dogs are considered unclean and dog owners are considered to be of low caste), they remained stony faced.

  • SweatingGin||

    I figured the reaction would be more "what the hell is a therapy dog??!? We get paid shit so you can have a THERAPY DOG!?!?"

  • ||

    It's much like Sexual Harrassment Panda, but rapey-er.

  • Paul.||

    Actually, that was my reaction when I first heard about it. But I kind of get it in a hospital situation.

  • Warty||

    I was hoping the story would end with the dog raping some Indian guy's leg.

  • fish||

    Climb out of your rut.....that's how all your stories end.

  • Killazontherun||

    As if 'the end.' is more satiating than 'and they were raped in turn.'.

  • Paul.||

    You're right, that would have been real comedy. My story is actually more of a "huh..." story, not so much funny.

  • fish||

    Funny Anal Rapey story:

    Tobias: Okay, Lindsay, are you forgetting that I was a professional twice over— an analyst and a therapist. The world’s first analrapist.

    Lindsay: Yes, and you were almost arrested for those business cards.

    Tobias: Yes. No, it did not look good on paper but I didn’t stop because of the police inquiries, I stopped to raise our little daughter.

  • ||

    Warty can also authorize anal probes, though he doesn't need probable cause. He is probable cause.

  • Warty||

    I AM an anal probe, you fucking idiot.

  • wingnutx||

    Will rape for treats.

  • ||

    All he knows is ball...and good...and rape.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    I'm shocked that it took 17 minutes to get to this.

  • Paul.||

    Libertopia is upon us!

  • Drake||

    Is how the free Obamacare colonoscopies will be administered?

  • SugarFree||

    Last February the justices unanimously ruled that "a court can presume" an alert by a drug-sniffing dog provides probable cause for a search "if a bona fide organization has certified a dog after testing his reliability in a controlled setting" or "if the dog has recently and successfully completed a training program that evaluated his proficiency in locating drugs."

    May they all spend eternity in The Hell of Burning Anal Probes. A dog cannot swear an Oath or an Affirmation. And having to prove the dog isn't qualified laughs in the face of Presumption of Innocence. And the mouth doing the laughing is full of half-chewed saltines.

  • Killazontherun||

    Dogs are an extension of their owner's intention. They sense the owner's prerogatives and attempt to reinforce them. As asshole dog that is aggressive to people merely reflects the owner's own desires. K9 officers aren't people, they are better than people. Especially those that don't wear the blue.

  • Killazontherun||

    Asn asshole dog

  • Fatty Bolger||

    "Master wants in your ass, I bark."

  • Swiss Servator, I got nothing.||

    eternity in The Hell of Burning Anal Probes

    "Hell of being what?"

    "Chinese have a lot of Hells."

  • PD Scott||

    "It's all in the reflexes."

  • Tamfang||

    Is there a Hell of Being Sat On by a Giant Frog?

  • Zeb||

    I read something recently about something that happened in Canada where they needed probable cause to bring in a dog to search for drugs. That seems like the way it should work (putting aside the fact that drugs shouldn't be illegal). Dogs are a good tool for finding hidden drugs, I am sure. But they are a terrible tool for determining whether or not drugs are present for all the reasons everyone mentions.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    Any word on if Leo is down to take the fall for this?

  • PD Scott||

    "Ruh-ruh. Hehehehehe."

  • Hugh Akston||

    Well now I know who's upvoting all those anal scenes on XVideos.

  • Jayburd||

    My experience has been that you don't have to train most dogs to walk up behind you and stick their nose up your patoot. They just do it. I think it's how they say "hello". It's also how some of my co-workers greet my boss.

  • Rich||

    if police say a dog is properly trained, they can get a search warrant based on nothing more than the animal's purported alert

    Emphasis added. "The dog appears to be clenching his buttocks!"

    According to police (and the Supreme Court, which essentially has adopted their point of view), dogs that seem to be making mistakes may actually be alerting to traces of drugs so minute that their existence cannot be confirmed.

    IOW, they *are* making mistakes.

    This dog shit should be bagged and properly disposed of.

  • STEVE SMITH||

    STEVE SMITH NOT NEED DOG TO PROBE ANUS OF ANYONE!

  • Dave Krueger||

    Police, judges, courts and prosecutors are all just parts of government. I have found that, if you simply substitute the word government for each of these words when reading a news item, it becomes pretty clear that the process by which justice is dispensed in the U.S. is very one sided.

    In other words, if you replaced an absolute dictator with a group of people who think just like the dictator, you haven't achieved much of an improvement.

  • Spoonman.||

    Thank goodness the first guy had the courage to tell the world about this. I wonder how many others have gotten anal probings for no reason.

  • Paul.||

    I wonder how many others have gotten anal probings for no reason.

    Only Warty can answer that.

  • Tim||

    Woof.

  • Tonio||

    HandR seems to have changed the picture accompanying this article. Originally a picture of an alsatian-type ("german shepherd") dog, now a picture of a Reason mag cover featuring a labrador.

    This by way of explaining the comments at the top of the thread...

    ...and asking Reason what happened?

  • Brett L||

    Maybe they discovered that picture wasn't free.

  • fish||

    That was the undercover dog!

  • Brett L||

    Yours is better.

  • Tonio||

    That actually occurred to me that there might be some bullshit NM law against publishing pictures of police officers. And they consider dogs to be officers of the law, which is patently ridiculous.

  • Spoonman.||

    I imagine they prefer to use one of their covers when possible.

  • jester||

    I always understood that one hid drugs in his ass to hide it in a prison environment, to smuggle it past a checkpoint of some sort. But apparently, law enforcement thinks that it is so effective that even people driving about town know that the only seemingly safe place for your drugs is in your ass. Hidden panels, hubcaps? Who are you kidding? The drugs will always be in the guy's ass. Anywhere else is just too risky. And now law enforcement is cracking down on the ultimate hiding place.
    I wonder what the bill was to tax payers for the multiple attempts to find shit in the guy's shit? Payroll hours, meds, lab analysis, etc.

  • Capt. Rimmer||

    No doubt. The idea that some random guy leaving Walmart would be hiding a small amount of drugs up his ass is preposterous.

  • Zeb||

    They guy got billed for his anal probe. But if anything approaching justice prevails, the tax payers will be shelling out a whole lot more than that.

  • Aresen||

    According to police (and the Supreme Court, which essentially has adopted their point of view), dogs that seem to be making mistakes may actually be alerting to traces of drugs so minute that their existence cannot be confirmed.

    IOW, they sense things we don't, so we have to trust them. Right. By this standard, we should believe the tales of people who say they were abducted by space aliens.

  • Zeb||

    Well, minute amounts of drugs is a bit more likely than alien abduction, but still rather weak as justification for a further search.

  • Aresen||

    I would bet that more people believe in Space Aliens than believe in the current administration.

  • niobiumstudio||

    You are correct, 60% of Americans believe in extraterrestrial life and only 39% believe in Obama...

    Aliens: http://www.space.com/1150-amer.....shows.html
    Obama: http://reason.com/24-7/2013/11.....-in-gallup

  • The Late P Brooks||

    If that dog's handler were to be found dead in his driveway, in a large pool of his own blood. I would shed not one tear.

    I would acquit anyone accused of murdering him.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Police need not produce (or even keep) data on the dog's actual performance in the field, evidence the Court deemed inferior to the results of tests in a "controlled" (i.e., rigged) setting.

    What the hell- it's not like anybody will ever let a drug-sniffing dog take a whirl through the offices of the Justices of the Supreme Court. A simple, "Don't you know who I am?" will put the whammy on any proposed searches in the wild.

  • R C Dean||

    Here's the deal (hinted at in the "purported" alert quip):

    What verification is there that the dog alerted? Isn't this just the handler's unsupported assertion that the dog alerted?

    So what SCOTUS really authorized, operationally, is that holding the leash of a trained dog empowers a cop to decree that probably cause for a warrant exists.

  • Carolynp||

    Seriously? This is freaking idiotic. Legalize drugs already.

  • Tamfang||

    If I were the sort of person willing to wish ill to a dog that probably has no malice in him, I'd say that the puppycide squad has its priorities mixed up.

  • sudon't||

    Why would a dog sniff someone's butt if it didn't contain drugs? Keep looking, boys!

  • optimusratiostultum||

    well, medically, the digestive tract is considered outside the body and any procedure on it is not "invasive"

    Can't wait for em to try that one, ooh jesus christ!

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement