Drug War

The Man’s Best Friend

Drug dogs sniff at the Fourth Amendment

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When the local drug dog shows up to sniff lockers, cars, and backpacks at Temple City High School in Southern California, senior Jonathan Huynh takes immediate notice. His heart rate jumps, his breathing slows, his hands start to sweat.

But Huynh isn't nervous because he has something to hide. His wariness stems from firsthand knowledge that drug dogs aren't the infallible sniffing machines imagined by the U.S. Supreme Court and much of the public. When Huynh was an eighth-grader at Oak Avenue Intermediate School in Temple City, a drug dog picked out his gym locker during a random search. When Huynh returned to the locker room at the end of class, a school administrator opened his locker in front of him and the rest of his classmates. The detection dog immediately lunged for the backpack and took hold of it, but when the administrator subsequently searched it, he found no drugs or other contraband. When the administrator and the canine team left, all the other students started laughing at Huynh. "I felt completely humiliated," he later wrote on an online message board.

The Temple City Unified School District contracts with a local franchise of a company called Interquest Detection Canines to conduct 17 inspections a year at three schools in its district. Ever since junior high, Huynh and his fellow classmates have lived under the threat of random canine sweeps.

In this respect, they're not that much different from millions of other Americans. Olfactory eavesdropping is a boom industry. "I've heard that there are as many as 18,000 police service dogs working in this country, doing narcotics control, explosives, tracking," says Terry Anderson, president of the National Police Canine Association, an organization that trains and certifies police dogs and their handlers. But while these police dogs and their counterparts in the private sector bury their super-sensitive snouts into our business, who's watching them? Certification is largely optional. "There's only two states in this country that say if you want to have a police dog, these are the criteria you have to meet," says Anderson, who also serves as a police officer in Pasadena, Texas.

While neither the federal government nor most states impose or even suggest standards for selecting, training, or evaluating detection dogs, the highest courts of the land give them plenty of leash when it comes to privacy rights. That started in 1983, when Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in U.S. v. Place that a canine sniff of luggage at an airport is so limited—in both its intrusiveness and in what it could disclose—that it doesn't qualify as a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, which bars "unreasonable searches and seizures." A detection dog would only alert if a piece of luggage contained contraband, O'Connor opined, and contraband wasn't subject to privacy protections.

Since then we've learned that detection dogs aren't infallible. During a 1994 search that took place at a high school in Harborcreek Township, Pennsylvania, for example, a drug dog sniffed 2,000 school lockers and indicated that 18 of them contained contraband. Only one actually did.

Such incidents have done little to damage the reputation of drug dogs among the animal lovers on the Supreme Court. In the 2005 case Illinois v. Caballes, the Court ruled that a canine sniff for narcotics at a traffic stop was not a search, even when there was no reasonable cause for suspicion. In writing the opinion for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens further enhanced the power of drug dogs by claiming that even their false alerts are no cause for concern, because no "legitimate private information" is conveyed when they indicate the presence or absence of contraband material.

But if a false alert reveals no legitimate private information, it does pave the way for a search that can do exactly that. In a 2005 essay for the NYU Journal of Law & Liberty, criminal defense attorney Ken Lammers translated Justice Stevens' dubious argument into plainer language: "It is as if Justice Stevens had upheld a warrant by arguing: 'When Officer Smith lied to Judge Jones in order to get the warrant, the lie, in and of itself, did not reveal any legitimate private information, and therefore the warrant is valid.'?"

Imagine a world where meter maids provisioned with drug dogs routinely check your car for cocaine, where postal carriers and their drug dogs give your front porch a good going-over on occasion. This, essentially, is what Illinois v. Caballes makes possible, and as Lammers noted in his essay, "these types of canine searches are already taking place." The venue? Schools like Temple City High.

In 2007, Temple City High made Newsweek's list of America's best high schools. In January 2010, representatives from Interquest giving a presentation at the local Kiwanis Club characterized Temple City Unified School District as "one of the cleanest" districts they serve. When I spoke with Scott Edmonds, president of the local Interquest franchise, he said that during visits to Temple City his canine inspection teams indicated the presence of drugs at a rate that was "well below the average for a public school district."

"We don't have a drug problem," Temple City senior Mark Lamb tells me. And yet in November 2010, two inspections occurred at the school within the span of two weeks. That's when Lamb, Huynh, and a handful of other students began trying to change school policy. Their focus is the backpack inspections. In these, a school administrator enters a randomly chosen classroom, tells students to leave their backpacks and other personal effects on their desks, then makes them move to another part of the room or, in some instances, leave the room entirely while a dog sniffs at their possessions.

In the 1999 case B.C. v. Plumas, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit (which includes California) held that similar random and suspicionless inspections that took place at a high school were unreasonable searches in part because school administrators had failed to establish that there was a "drug crisis" or even a "drug problem" at the school. The following year, the state's attorney general at the time, Bill Lockyer, issued an opinion that reached similar conclusions.

Of course, these conclusions were reached prior to Illinois v. Caballes. But while the Supreme Court has now deemed random, suspicionless sniffs constitutionally correct, what of the seizures that sometimes occur as a prelude to these inspections?

In March 2010, the Third Court of Appeals of Texas held that a student who was forced to leave her backpack on her desk for a drug dog to sniff after she and other students vacated the room had not been victim of an unreasonable seizure because that seizure did not lead to a significant invasion of privacy. But a seizure doesn't have to compromise someone's privacy to qualify as unreasonable—it just has to be unreasonable. "Consider an officer walking up to you on the street and grabbing your briefcase out of your hand," attorney Ken Lammers writes in an email to me. "He has seized it, but he has no idea what is inside it and therefore your privacy has not been infringed upon. [But] would a reasonable person believe your constitutional right against unreasonable seizure of your property had been violated? Of course he would."

So far, Lamb and Huynh have been unable to convince their school that their rights are being violated. But they haven't given up yet. They're hoping to enlist the help of the American Civil Liberties Union or some similar legal organization, and they plan to make their case for canceling the contract with Interquest at an upcoming meeting of their district's school board.

"They all wore suit jackets," Interquest president Scott Edmonds told me after meeting with them to discuss the inspections. "They were nice kids." But these days even nice kids get treated like potentially dangerous prisoners. 

Contributing Editor Greg Beato (gbeato@soundbitten.com) writes from San Francisco.

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157 responses to “The Man’s Best Friend

  1. There was an article posted on economist.com yesterday suggesting that bomb-sniffing dogs can be influenced by subtle cues they sense from their handlers, e.g., the dogs may be more or less likely to “detect” contraband based on how their handlers act around the persons they are checking. Yet another example of the point Greg is making.

    1. Any libertarian worth their salt knows that drug sniffing cats are the solution. Let’s fight the WoD with bold, individualist drug sniffers.

      1. Also, nobody cares if you shoot a cat.

        1. Or juggle them.

          1. Stir-fry.

            1. Lacism!!!!

              1. That’s light!

    2. OK, I hate the government, but that kid is a pussy. Getting physical reactions from a dog mis-sniffing your bag? It’s not like the police killed your family or your dog or anything.

      1. and of course it’s possible the dog may have not mis-sniffed. if you store certain drugs in a location, and then remove them… the scent remains for a while. not saying this was the case, but it certainly could be

        1. Dogs are used to determine possession. If they hit on you and you are not actually possessing, then it should be handled the same way a retail loss prevention officer is handled for a non-productive stop.

          1. a dog is used to determine (or help determine) PROBABLE CAUSE of possession, not omniscient certainty.

            loss prevention in most locales, are dealing with detention of people, whereas dogs are moreso dealing with the detention of property, which creates less liaibility, although often it’s both persons and property.

            in my jurisdiction, a dog hit will result in enough PC (usually) to get a search warrant.

            the law generally recognizes a difference between seizing property and persons.

            the latter is more problematic when there is a fuckup obviously.

            most loss prevention acts upon an “in fact committed ” standard where they have to actually witness the theft, maintain constant surveillance , until the point of apprehension. this is more than is required under the probable cause standard, but they have different liability issues.

            loss prevention acts under similar “rules of engagement” as private citizens protecting their property, except it’s not a home,it’s a business (giving them less leeway in regards to force etc), they are expceted to have better training, and will generally be held to a high standard than for example a person who is apprehending a thief who stole property from their yard

            1. to clarify on the person/property distinction, the dog gives probable cause to search, but given the PC if the search is conducted and no contraband is found the PC is no longer valid, generally speaking.

              if i seize an item and apply for a warrant, and for example the judge denies the warrant (let’s say he disagrees on sufficiency of PC) then that is much less liability since taking somebody’s fannypack into custody is less of a seizure than taking THEM into custody.

              there is case law that due diligence in speedily applying for a search warrant is required.

              a case recently threw out a search of a seized computer for child porn (a lot was found) because the detective delayed in getting the warrant (iirc a week or two) since he was on vacation. that was viewed as an excessive delay that vitiated the legitimacy of the search, even though the PC at the time was rock solid.

              1. Let me clarify here? You’re saying that a dog sniffing a bag and saying “look at this” gives probable cause for a full search? What if police were to use some hypothetical handheld chemical detectors in the search (just replace the dog with technology)? Would this be ok? Outside of drugs – How about if they were to listen into your private affairs using laser microphones (already existing) or some other technology? Is this ok? In all cases, no one is actually going and physically rummaging through your stuff. Yet most of these examples seem to be clear violations of property rights.

                1. no, i’m not. i should have been more clear that the drug dog adds to the totality of circumstances that as a whole comprise probable cause. at least in my agency, we don’t even call a drug dog unless we have at least reasonable suspicion. a positive hit in addition to the other facts and circ’s that developed reasonable suspicion would be enough to have probable cause

                  as for the “other technology”. the legal standard (again— GENERALLY SPEAKING) is that any technology that enhances the senses and is not in “common use” by the public requires a warrant to use. i think that’s GOOD. like i said, i’m against the drug war in general, but i don’t think that given the drug war – drug dogs are egregious.

                  as an example of the reasonable suspicion that might lead to a drug dog – you could have a guy with
                  1) pinpoint pupils (suggestive of opioid use)
                  2) track marks (ditto)
                  3) syringe sitting on the floorboard.

                  those would not imo and in my jurisdiction be sufficient PC to search. note also that in my jurisdiction, syringes are OTC. it would be reasonable suspicion, especially if the person didn’t claim to be on prescription opioids (which could account for the pinpoint pupils but not the other stuff usually)

            2. they are expceted to have better training, and will generally be held to a high standard than for example a person who is apprehending a thief who stole property from their yard the police.

              1. no, that’s false. higher training than, for example – a homeowner.

                most loss prevention agents i have worked with are pretty well trained and pretty professional. the amount of civil liability a big chain like walmart et al can face from lawsuits due to unlawful detention etc. is huge so they generally operate under very strict “in fact committed’ standard which is not technically required by law.

                they investigate one narrow area of the law, and thus can concentrate and do a pretty good job ime.

                1. So, you’re saying that they’re not held to a higher standard than the police?

                  1. And didn’t you say that a lack of training was responsible for the cop excuting that guy on the subway? Would you (or a judge and jury) feel the same way about a loss prevention agent shooting a guy in the back of the head?

                    1. no, i didn’t say that.

                      what i said (in brief) is that cops are not (contra the claim made by hmm) “firearms experts”, that in general – firearms training cops receive is lacking, and that ime due to the recency of the taser and its similarity to the handgun in “feel” and operation, that cops should receive much better training in distinguishing drills and de-escalation/escalation drills

                      i didn’t establish a direct causal relationship that is as simple as you claim

                      and of course it’s not about how i or anybody “feel”. it’s about objective facts

                      and finally, what i said was that i agreed 100% with balko that due to the totality of the circumstances, the cop received the proper criminal punishment. i never once said that he should have been acquitted. if i believed what you claim up about (that lack of training was RESPONSIBLE) then he shouldn’t have had criminal liability.

                  2. they are held to a higher standard because they are required to have probable cause to detain,whereas cops can detain on reasonable suspicion

                    that’s an evidentiary standard.

                    they also do not have qualified immunity from civil liability

                    so, in brief- yes

  2. “who’s watching them?”
    So is Reason advocating government regulation of drug sniffing dogs?

    1. Legitimate oversight of government activity is completely compatible with libertarianism. Private activity and publicly funded activity are two very different things.

    2. Re: Rather,

      So is Reason advocating government regulation of drug sniffing dogs?

      Of course! Because, that way, drug-sniffing dogs will become much more effective, just like anything else the government regulates!

    3. Are you saying the certification could only be done by government? UL, the MPAA, and OK Kosher would be surprised to hear this.

      1. Why do we need to certify the dogs in the first place? Your standard libertarian would so both the searches and the drug laws on which they’re based are illegitimate. So there’d be no need for the dogs in the first place.

  3. The police have been killing our dogs for years. Maybe it’s payback time.

  4. When is it OK to shoot a dog?

    When it’s a cop dog!

    1. Fuck you, it is never okay to shoot a dog.

      1. But cop dogs are cops, and cops are “pigs.” Now I’m confused.

        1. Re: Libertarian Riddle,

          But cop dogs are cops, and cops are “pigs.” Now I’m confused.

          You’re such a goose!

      2. Of course it is. You shoot a dog for the same reason(s) you would shoot a horse. I remember my Grandfather had to shoot our dog. He a bad neurological problem with his hind legs. We named him “Shaky”. Eventually, it got so bad he couldn’t get up. My Grandfather took him out back and shot him. When he came back in all he said was, “I hope I never have to do that again”.

        1. True. I have put dogs down to. But you are doing that for their own good. Euthanasia is different than murder.

          1. We get “murdered” all the time. Pork chops, anyone? How about some nice ribs?

          2. Which is why it is often called murder light.

            1. I mean lite, goddamn marketing neologisms.

            2. same great taste, less filling?

          3. Euthanasia is different than murder.

            So is self defense.

            1. Euthanasia is different than murder.

              So is self defense.

              And abortion??

              1. Look, the kid had it coming!

          4. fwiw, in my state it is perfectly legal to shoot and kill your pet. for no reason, or any reason. it is only illegal to do so in a manner that causes undue suffering. dogs do not, under our constitution have a right to life. there is only a duty on humans not to act cruelly towards them or if they are an owner, not to unduly neglect them (starving etc. which would be cruelty anyway).

            there is no such thing as “murder’ of a dog, at least under our penal code in WA. dogs are property, though, so if you kill somebody else’s dog, even if done w/o cruelty it is of course a crime

            1. if you kill somebody else’s dog, even if done w/o cruelty it is of course a crime

              Unless a cop does it, of course.

              1. anybody can kill a dog in self defense or defense of others and it isn’t a crime. i have responded to two incidents where a person (not a cop) shot a dog and in both cases it was entirely justified (self defense).

                you may argue that juries/prosecutors give cops more benefit of the doubt as to self defense in some locales, but ANYBODY has the right to kill a dog in self defense.

                my state places the burden on the prosecution to DISPROVE self defense whereas many other states require the defendant to establish self defense and also must pay court costs, lost wages etc. if they charge somebody with a crime and the jury rules
                1) not guilty
                AND
                2) makes a determination that it was in self-defense

                1. This is all making me very uncomfortable.

      3. I also cried at the end of Old Yeller.

        1. Also Million Dollar Baby.

          1. No, I’ve no problem with shooting horses.

      4. Looks like someone’s childhood was traumatized by Old Yeller and/or Where the Red Fern Grows.

      5. +1000 @John

    2. Re: Libertarian Riddle,

      When is it OK to shoot a dog?

      When I shoot YOU… dog.

  5. Interesting, but not actionable

  6. The dog is nothing more than a tool, although an imperfect and often poorly used one. The problem with these cases is that at some point technology will render dogs obsolete. What happens when we have Star Trek like scanners that can detect the presence of virtually anything? If a god sniffing you is constitutionally okay, it is hard to see how a scanner scanning you wouldn’t be as well.

    Then what privacy do we have left? It seems to me that these cases have reduced privacy to mean nothing more than the right not to have the government fondle you. If they can search in a non-intrusive way, they are okay even when done without a reasonable suspicion.

    I think the right to privacy is more than just the right not to be fondled. It is the right not to have the government know what you are doing or caring. The method of the search isn’t the point. The existence of the search is the point. Even if the search involves the intrusiveness of a dog sniffing you, if it is done randomly and without any probable cause to believe you are doing anything illegal, it is by its very nature unreasonable. Or at least it should be if we had a Supreme Court that actually gave a shit about the Constitution and people’s rights.

    1. Nice soliloquy, dude, but those pig-dogs are tools of The Man, and The Man wants to impose his Rules on the rest of us with his jack-boots on the necks of us peaceful individualists. Kill ’em all!

      1. Re: Anarchist,

        Nice soliloquy, dude, but those pig-dogs are tools of The Man[…]

        You mean Klingon Targs?

    2. If a god sniffing you is constitutionally okay, it is hard to see how a scanner scanning you wouldn’t be as well.

      False equivalency. G-d or any god for that matter shouldn’t need a “nose” to know if I am carrying drugs or explosives. If G-d “sniffs” it is at your poorly constructed comparison.

      1. you couldn’t tell that the word god was a typo and he mean’t dog? Really?

    3. If a god sniffing you is constitutionally okay, it is hard to see how a scanner scanning you wouldn’t be as well.

      There’s got to be a pick-up line or two in there, but I need coffee first.

      (Seriously, good point, John.)

      1. Say cheese!

    4. And what is with this bullshit rationale that the contraband isn’t “subjected to privacy protections”? What the hell does that even mean?

      “Privacy protections” are limits on what the government is allowed to do. It’s not a right that is “granted” to a citizen, and it certainly isn’t an intrinsic property of any given substance or object.

      The same reasoning was echoed in Caballes (no “legitimate private information”) and even in the Plumas case that ruled against the search (I suppose if the school had somehow “established a drug problem” it would have been all good). Bullshit.

      1. “Privacy protections” are limits on what the government is allowed to do. It’s not a right that is “granted” to a citizen, and it certainly isn’t an intrinsic property of any given substance or object.

        That was a long time ago back when it was “self evident” that men were endowed with certain inalienable rights.

        Now it is considered “self evident” that all rights come from government, and that they are all fully negotiable.

        Once upon a time freedom meant that the government could do that which was allowed, and the people were free to do that which was not forbidden.

        Now the people may do that which is allowed, and the government can do whatever the fuck it wants.

        Liberty is dead.

      2. I’ve never understood that either. A lot of these decisions say something like “there is no expectation of privacy for contraband.” WTF? Are they saying the 4th Am. only applies if you are innocent?

    5. The existence of the search is the point. Even if the search involves the intrusiveness of a dog sniffing you, if it is done randomly and without any probable cause to believe you are doing anything illegal, it is by its very nature unreasonable.

      “There’s still goodness in him, I can feel it!”

      “You were right about me, Luke! Tell your sister, that you were right!”

      1. Until you are searched you are considered guilty.

        Only by submitting to a search can you prove your innocence.

        We’re all guilty until proven innocent.

      2. under case law, in most states, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a SCHOOL locker, since those lockers are owned by the school. in many schools, the schools also have the combo.

        note also that school admins can search a student based on “reasonable suspicion” a lower standard than cops need. it’s based on their in loco parentis status. and several other legal principles.

        an advantage to private school is that the school and the parents can contract to recognize much higher level of privacy for the students. yet another reason to be a libertarian

        1. The personal property of the students, i.e. their backpacks, are NOT the property of the school. Ans since the public schools are agents of the State, they cannot Constitutionally search them. I fail to understand why authoritarians think that kids check their Constitutional rights at the school entrance.

          1. i agree. i also chose private school fwiw. regardless, the LEGAL ARGUMENT is that schools act as de facto parents in high/jr high/grammar schools since they are tasked with protecting the kids much like parent is, and the kids are minors.

            it’s a paternalistic justification, but of course we ARE talking children.

            a parent needs no warrant to enter a child’s room in their house and look through stuff.

            the in loco parentis exception doesnt go that far, but it is used as a justification for schools to have a lower threshold to open backpacks etc (reasonable suspicion)

            another justification is based on the school’s responsibility to protect all the students, and kids bringing drugs etc. to school and especially to deal them disrupts the school environment and diminishes the school admin ability to provide a safe environment for all kids.

            the operative distinction is that drug users/dealers are much better off keeping their drugs off campus. they enjoy fewer/less extensive privacy protections on campus, or at school functions.

            a child off campus *and not enroute to/from school via buses etc.* is not the “responsibility’ of the public at large, but on campus, the schools are the de facto parents, and thus have similar (but less extensive authority) over same.

            that’s the argument anyway…

            remember, kids dont have constitutional rights (with rare exceptions) from their PARENTS. the school, while an arm of govt. authority, is also operating under in loco parentis.

            look at it this way. an adult should be free to tattoo himself or get tattoos. most would agree a parent has the right to prohibit their kid from getting same and that no other adult should be able to tattoo their kid w/o the parent’s permission

            an adult SHOULD have the right to ingest a drug of choice. most would agree that another individual should not have the right to give their minor kid drugs, though.

            etc.

  7. It seems to me that these cases have reduced privacy to mean nothing more than the right not to have the government fondle you.

    Haven’t flown recently?

    1. True,

      But that at least involves the choice to fly.

      1. …for now…we’re working on those train and bus stations.

        1. … and any large gatherings of people. Like the football do you? That’s a fondlin’.

  8. personal odors in public r public…or perhaps pubic, depending on the odor.

    1. OhioOrrin’s first stint at poetry…

      … and it stinks.

      1. well i did mention pubic odors which attracted old mex…naturally

        1. Re: OhioOrrin,

          well i did mention pubic odors which attracted old mex

          You need to take your Thorazine, OO, your writing looks slurred.

  9. Peek-a-boo!
    http://volokh.com/2011/02/16/t…..rder-that-“will-compel-volokh-to-remove-his-blog-post”/

    1. OK Mr. Off-Topic, I looked and noticed this: Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit), Marc Randazza (Legal Satyricon), Ed Whelan (National Review Online), and I signed an amicus brief supporting Overlawyered’s position in the appeal. No mention of the Reason Foundation. Huh.

      1. Reason is so terrified of alleged animal fornicators that they take down anonymous blog comments. You think they would sign a brief?

        1. Why not? They eat my shorts!

      2. The response quoted those accusations… (which had been posted by anonymous Reason.com commenters, apparently prompted by coverage of Wolk’s lawsuit against Overlawyered).

        Dastardly anonymous commentators!

    2. I know it’s you, Johnny Longtorso. Couldn’t wait for the official Morning Links, could you. Bad boy.

      1. Nope. This and my only other comment had my name attached. No sockpuppets.

  10. Great post title.

    1. I am offended.

  11. Essence of female dog.

    That is all.

  12. Are these dogs placed on routine administrative leave after involvement in an “incident” (or if they have a cold)?

  13. Sorry, I only meant in the ‘friends with benefits’ way, not, you know, in the bad way.

    1. Now I get the server squirrels stuff. Fucking libertarian software.

      1. One more example of suffering caused by a negative externality. When will we glibertarians learn.

  14. In these, a school administrator enters a randomly chosen classroom, tells students to leave their backpacks and other personal effects on their desks, then makes them move to another part of the room or, in some instances, leave the room entirely while a dog sniffs at their possessions.

    Fuck that! What the fuck is wrong with kids these days that they put up with this shit? If they would have tried that shit in my HS, I would have told them in no uncertain terms to go fuck themselves, and so would at least half of the other students.

    1. Look on the bright side, Mr Whipple.

      At least half of today’s kids would automatically call the DHS TIPS-line to report unattended backpacks.

    2. like we’d care. now run along lil boy..

      1. True. There certainly is a difference in Administration today, as well. It would have never happened in my school because the administrators would have not even considered doing it.

        1. Since it took you over 13 minutes to go from Type A to Type B, me thinks you were Type B all along. That passive-agressive thing is so 1990’s.

          Where is my stick and long hair woman to drag around as I need to go kill a rabbit or such for lunch.

          1. what is this I don’t even

    3. Clue: Government Schools are “citizen indoctrination camps”. Students are being subjected to more and more police-state monitoring and are being taught that it is normal and appropriate.

      The result: Citizen adults that are desensitized to those infringements; who will not question the police-state’s authority or action; but, instead, will comply with every directive. They will even applaud those directives with the platitude, “if you’re not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about.”

      1. This is exactly it.

      2. And private schools arn’t? At least I could run for board of my local school district. In no case could I do anything but apply for a job strictly approved by a small group of “owners.”

        All of this stuff you are discussing here is motivated by private interests. The status quo and escalation of prohibition and WoD is the result of profitability maintained by a misinformed, bigoted, and scared public.
        Look at things…Much progress has been made, systemic change is nearing high probability. I would say we have about 2 decades before this business will be totally transformed and society will be much for the better
        I wouldnt worry though. This will be a good lesson for the public and our pain will not be in vane.

  15. In March 2010, the Third Court of Appeals of Texas held that a student who was forced to leave her backpack on her desk for a drug dog to sniff after she and other students vacated the room had not been victim of an unreasonable seizure because that seizure did not lead to a significant invasion of privacy.

    The obvious lesson here, kids, is to keep your shit on you at all times. Bring only small quantities and no paraphernalia (that’s what soda cans are for), and invest in some good, portable, odor-free storage solutions.

    1. I just bring in a snootful, if you catch my drift.

  16. Re: Rather,

    So is Reason advocating government regulation of drug sniffing dogs?

    Of course! Because, that way, drug-sniffing dogs will become much more effective, just like anything else the government regulates!!!

  17. That started in 1983, when Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in U.S. v. Place that a canine sniff of luggage at an airport is so limited ? in both its intrusiveness and in what it could disclose ? that it doesn’t qualify as a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, which bars “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

    Which means Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is privvy to the gradations of meaning implicit in the 4th Amendment. She can see what others can’t, it would seem…

    To me, a search derived from what some puppy smelled is UNreasonable in its face.

    1. Why do you cling to that quaint notion that the words of the Constitution mean what they actually say?
      Where’s the fun in that?

      My job as a judge is to interpret those words to mean what I want them to mean, not what they actually say.

      Now that is fun!

      1. u mean like 3/5ths of a person & all that?

        1. Re: OhioOrrin,

          u mean like 3/5ths of a person & all that?

          A free lesson in Constitutional (and contract) law:
          Amendments supercede previous clauses. The 14th Amendment made the 3/5ths clause null and void. Children know this, numbskull.

          Before attempting to look cute, try some actual cleverness for a change.

          1. “Children know this, numbskull.”

            Not if their civics teacher is a liberal they don’t.

        2. I was under the impression that that was no longer in the Constitution.

          1. It is, but it has a line through it. But that could just be my version…

    2. In O’Connor’s mind a search is being groped. By her logic, if the technogy is ever developed (and I see no reason why it some day won’t be) that allows the government to passively scan us for contraband, they will be able to scan us anytime, anywhere, day or night. There is no way the 4th Amendment can or should mean that.

      1. there is a difference between looking into an area vs. detecting odors that emanate from an area. the argument is that once the odors pass through the container into the air around it (that’s what the dog detects), that the privacy interests are different.

        it’s internally consistent. if one can see or smell something w/out entering into a place where a privacy interest is established, that’s different than opening a closed container, searching a pocket, or pushing aside a curtain to peer inside something.

        the main rebuttal is that courts have generally held that detection methods that significantly enhance the senses (parabolic microphones being a good example) and can detect things that would go undetected, save such enhanced technology (and a dog has far more sensitivity in their nose than a human) or enhanced biology deserve privacy protections.

        the question is should it be a PC threshold, such as is required to look into the hidden areas, or a lower standard (RS etc.)

  18. I wonder what they would consider to be unreasonable.

    1. Objecting to the search is unreasonable.

  19. And if the hound humps your thigh are you considered guilty of horniness or merely suspected of poor eating habits?

    So many questions.

  20. I think it’s reasoanble to rule that a dog sniff is not a search ONLY if a dog being attracted to a car, person, locker, bag or other item is not considered probalbe cause. Dogs can be carried by police for protection or companionship and dogs are attracted to all kinds of curious smells drugs, phermones from another dog, food, people, they may be attacted to people because of their manner, none of this indicates the presence of drugs or explosives, and is not grounds for a search.

    1. Yeah, it’s not the use of dogs that’s the problem so much as the legal weight given to it. Of course, would police be interested in using such an inaccurate tool if it didn’t give them permission to violate citizens’ privacy with impunity?

      1. what’s your basis for claiming they are an inaccurate tool, apart from an anecdote or two?

        iow, do you know what %age of positive dog sniffs result in finding drugs vs. what do not?

        1. Anyone who’s gone to highschool in the last 20 years knows they’re an innacurate tool. If he said the sky was blue, would you ask for a cite? And I’m not sure you should trust statistics compiled by the police for that anyway. Most of the false positives I’ve seen were blamed on otc painkillers (i.e. the dog smelled drugs, but they were legal) so that wouldn’t be considered a false positive. No one ever bothered to explain why the cops were training their dogs to smell asprin.

          1. iow, you have no evidence. as a i suspected.

            baseless assertions… they’re what’s for breakfast

          2. iow, you have no evidence. as a i suspected.

            baseless assertions… they’re what’s for breakfast

            1. Suck it.

              http://blog.norml.org/2011/02/…..vis-study/

              As always, when you ask for evidence, it takes 2 seconds and a google search. I assume you are just going to ignore it like you do taser deaths. Fuck evidence if it conflicts with making a cops job easier, right?

              1. thanks. a simple request, and a simple answer. i appreciate it.

                1. Furthermore, why is the burden of proof on those who oppose dog sniffs as probable cause? Last I checked, the burden of proof is supposed to fall on the side of those making the accusation.

                  1. the burden of proof was on him making a claim. i made no claim about their efficacy. he made a bold claim , i asked for evidence. he provided a study. i appreciate that.

                    1. he made a bold claim , i asked for evidence

                      It could only be considered a bold claim if you’ve had no contact with law enforcement since the Reagan Administration. Coming from a cop, it’s a ridiculous question. It’s like someone said that cops carried guns, and you asked for a cite. Shit, there was an example in the article you’re commenting on. It was an intellectually dishonest debate tactic that you were hoping you wouldn’t get called on.

                    2. not at all. it was simply a request for evidence, which you subsequently provided, and i thank you for it. i’ve worked with drug dogs a lot. i’ve quarried the patrol dogs (that go after people) and hidden drugs in a room to see if the dog could find it. clearly, the relationship between the handler and the dog is critical and of course it makes sense (from a psychology perspective) that preconception and subtle cues (conscious or not) from the handler can affect the dog-cop combo in their efficacy. the first thing i was told by a (very good ) handler was that he learned to trust his dog. he doesn’t lead the dog, the dog leads him, so to speak.

                      like any tool, they can be abused and misused, and studies like this are important.

                      again, thank you.

  21. But while these police dogs and their counterparts in the private sector bury their super-sensitive snouts into our business, who’s watching them? Certification is largely optional. “There’s only two states in this country that say if you want to have a police dog, these are the criteria you have to meet,” says Anderson, who also serves as a police officer in Pasadena, Texas.

    Reason worried about certification of dogs ? Are you kidding me?

    1. Already went through this above. Libertarian advocation for oversight of police and other government activity isn’t contradictory at all.

  22. At my high school, I was in orchestra, and one particularily good classmate had her $10,000 violin searched because it was $150 yrs old, and she had to bring it in for dress rehearsals (it was her concert instrument). At the time, I asked to speak to the principal about the search, which had been carried out without her there, and he refused, so I went to the school board (my mom ran two of the member’s campaign), and pointed out that I would be personally suing the disctrict when I came of age if they ever tried to inspect my viola (only $3500) without me present and handling it. They decided that any personal instruments had to be searched with the student present after that incident, and I kept raising hell about it every dog search.

  23. Also, I wouldn’t allow a backpack inspection. If they want to search my backpack, a human being can do it. A lot of times, I accidentally left trail mix or other things from scouting trips in my backpack, and who knows what kinds of smoke from campfires got on my backpack. Also, I’m allergic to animal dander, in particular dogs, and I would refuse the dog search on the grounds that allergies were a signifcant distraction from class for me. Now, I would submit to a personal human search, but that’s in leiu of the dog one.

  24. When I’m libertarian dictator, a dog can smell whatever he wants. But it won’t be sufficient for probable cause. When the dog barks, that means he thinks you have something. So what? If a human just thinks you have something, that shouldn’t be probable cause, so it certainly shouldn’t be any different if a lower order of mammal thinks the same thing.

  25. our seizure laws have been going out the window for a very long time now, and many have been wrongly convicted, needless to say searched, and we must come to a firm grip to overturn some of this that contibues to plauge our rights as citizens, there is no doubt that there does exist some factor in society to protect, but when govt infringe on the rights of other solely to carry out it means is totally unacceptable

  26. Fucking disgusting, slobbering animals- that handle police dogs.

  27. what we need is a federal constitution w/more teeth (no pun intended) . my state constitution has a right to privacy. the federal one doesn’t. thus, state leo’s are far more restricted in search and seizure authority (dui roadblocks are illegal for instance).

    of course doing away with the war on drugs would be good too. although schools could still regulate possession of same on campus, even if they were legal for adults, similar to alcohol

    1. My state constitution says “Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned”, and exercising that right is a guaranteed way to be questioned, searched, taken into custody, interrogated, searched again, and finally have some bogus charge filed against you after your property has taken away.

      Every government evolves into tyranny.

      That’s just the way it is.

      1. not ime. my state strongly protects firearms and privacy rights and court decisions have consistently EXPANDED not constricted those rights.

        i could give a host of examples, but i’ll give two

        1) open carry
        2) pretext stops
        3) search of vehicle incident to arrest
        the former was expressly recognized and the latter two effectively eliminated recently in my state.

        rights expand all the time

        looking at articles that cherry pick the opposite ignore that reality. the reality is that there are some examples of rights being diminished and some of rights being expanded. they BOTH happen.

        1. ok, that’s 3 not 2 🙂

        2. We’ve got open carry here.

          It is perfectly legal.

          Try it and several nice men with badges and guns will question you, search you, detain you, take your firearm away, and charge you with something (disorderly conduct is most common) before sending you on your merry way.

          And you can only get your weapon back if you hire a lawyer.

          Ain’t freedom grand?

          1. then your state sux. open carry here is legal, and the cops will NOT do this, because they will get sued like crazy if they try to pull that stuff.

            our dept. routinely gets calls from hysterical complainants about people in their neighborhood open carrying . tough shit

            we won’t contact the open carrier and our dispatchers advise the complainant that it’s legal behavior

            1. Not here.

              The police do acknowledge that open carry is legal, but they make a point out of intimidating the hell out of anyone who dares to do it.

              1. i would hope clear court precedent would rule against that practice.

                here, it is mostly hysterical liberals that pheer open carry. most cops i know support it or are at least indifferent to it.

                most of it tends to come from where one is from ime. cops from rural areas are more likely to support it, and those who are from urban environs, less so

                1. “i would hope clear court precedent would rule against that practice.”

                  If you open carry you will be stopped, questioned and searched.

                  If they don’t find any contraband to charge you with a crime then they’ll make something up like Disorderly Conduct or Disturbing The Peace so they can take your weapon and lock you up for a few hours.

                  Often times they dismiss the charges. (But they won’t give you your weapon back until you hire a lawyer. If a lawyer costs more than the weapon then they get to keep it.)

                  It’s standard practice.

                  Court precedent is that the police are always right about everything.

                  Last year they gunned down a guy who was over twenty feet away and armed with a knife. It was on camera. The guy was obviously not an immediate threat.

                  It was found to be justified.

                  It’s nothing but corruption out there.

                  1. i suggest you may be a bit biased, but what state ARE you in? when people make statements like “court precedent is that the police are always right about everything” my bullshit detector goes into overdrive. that’s true in no jurisdiction i have seen, and a mere cursory glance at case law journals (law enforcement digest in my state is an excellent way to stay up to date) shows that to be laughably false.

                    i can’t comment on whether your knife case is a correct analysis, since i have nothing apart from your description.

                    regardless, IF concealed carry is legal where you live, then i would hope you can at least get some good case law precedents to punish police that act contrary to law.

              2. Why didn’t I think of that?

      2. oh,and i would say “devolves into tyranny” instead 🙂

    2. I suggest that you read the Bill of Rights a little more closely. Please pay particular attention to the 9th Amendmet: “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

      In other words, just ’cause a right is NOT specifically mentioned, that does NOT mean that the Government may infringe upon it at will.

  28. Ah, our glorious “Living Constitution”. Do you progressive folks still think it’s a good idea?

    1. Every progressive I know just loves the WoDs.
      Unfortunately, I think they would simply point to this practice as a shining example of the benefits of a “living constitution.”

      1. On second thought, it’s probably because the progressives I know had horrible childhoods. They hate drugs because their mom took drugs and she was mean to them. They are convinced it is the drug’s fault and don’t want to admit that their mom is really just a giant Seaward.

  29. They should get as many kids as possible to start keeping Milkbones in their back packs. Then the fucking dogs will go crazy every time they come to that school. Let’s see how the administration likes having to go through every one of those backpacks?

    1. Awesome idea! Talk about disrupting the entire school day.

  30. They should get as many kids as possible to start keeping Milkbones in their back packs. Then the fucking dogs will go crazy every time they come to that school. Let’s see how the administration likes having to go through every one of those backpacks?

  31. Thanks for the tip to prank our gym teacher. Think of the fun it’d be to drop some genuine coyote urine scent on his duffel bag before the next round of Lassie find drug hits campus.

  32. Thanks for the tip to prank our gym teacher. Think of the fun it’d be to drop some genuine coyote urine scent on his duffel bag before the next round of Lassie find drug hits campus.

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