In the 2005 case Illinois v. Caballes, the U.S: Supreme Court declared that “the use of a well-trained narcotics-detection dog…during a lawful traffic stop generally does not implicate legitimate privacy interests.” This ruling allows cops to use K9s as search warrants.
A police dog is supposed to indicate the presence of drugs with a clear, objectively verifiable signal, such as sitting down in front of an odor’s source or scratching at it. But even if the dog does not do this, the deputy can say that his dog gave off ‘passive signals’, and then can search your car whether you like it or not.
For police officers, a passive signal can mean anything, from the dog scratching his ass to passing gas. Any old thing will do so long as the cop can find an excuse to search your vehicle.
K9s As Search Warrants
The foundational text of the courts’ canine cult is U.S. v. Place, a 1983 decision involving an airport search that found a kilogram of cocaine in a suitcase to which a dog had alerted. The Supreme Court unanimously concluded that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) violated the Fourth Amendment by keeping the bag for 90 minutes before presenting it to a dog.
But instead of stopping there, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor opined that “a ‘canine sniff’ by a well-trained narcotics detection dog…discloses only the presence or absence of narcotics” and “does not expose noncontraband items that otherwise would remain hidden from public view.” Because of this specificity, O’Connor concluded, “exposure of respondent’s luggage, which was located in a public place, to a trained canine…did not constitute a ‘search’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.”
And there we have it right there. This was the go-ahead for cops to violate your 4th Ammendant rights as long as they have a K9 with them.
K9s As Legal Fiction
Two decades later the Court extended this principle to cars in Caballes, dissenting Justice David Souter noted that O’Connor’s conclusion “rests not only upon the limited nature of the intrusion, but on a further premise that experience has shown to be untenable, the assumption that trained sniffing dogs do not err.” In reality, Souter said, “the infallible dog…is a creature of legal fiction.”
Souter cited examples of dogs accepted as reliable by courts that had error rates of up to 38 percent. He added that “dogs in artificial testing situations return false positives anywhere from 12.5 to 60 percent of the time.”
And when dogs are out in the field, they will return false positives whenever their handlers instruct them to. And they will tell them too whenever they want to search your car for whatever reason as always.
But Souter gave drug-sniffing dogs too much credit. A 2011 Chicago Tribune analysis of data from suburban police departments found that vehicle searches justified by a dog’s alert failed to turn up drugs or drug paraphernalia 56 percent of the time.
Six Police Dogs
In 1979 six police dogs at two public schools in Highland, Indiana, alerted to 50 students. Only 17 of whom possessed contraband (marijuana, drug paraphernalia,
and cans of beer). That is a false positive rate of 66 percent.
Looking at the performance of an Illinois state police K-9 team during an 11-month period in 2007 and 2008, Huffington Post reporter Radley Balko found that the dog sniffed 252 vehicles and alerted 136 times. But only 74 percent of the searches triggered by those alerts did not find measurable amounts of illegal drugs.
During a 1984 operation in Florida, state police stopped about 1,330 vehicles at roadblocks and walked dogs around them. If one dog alerted, another was brought in, and vehicles were searched only if both dogs indicated the presence of illegal drugs. That happened 28 times, but those searches yielded just one drug arrest. In other words, even when two dogs both signaled the presence of drugs, they were wrong 96 percent of the time.
But that doesn’t matter to law enforcement officials. They just want to search your car and do not care about your rights. And they will do whatever it takes to impose their will on you and get that search done.
Only Lies And Bullshit
So what’s the deal when dogs give an alert and no drugs are found? Police and prosecutors usually claim these are ‘not really’ false alarms because the dog must have detected otherwise imperceptible drug traces left on clothing, cars, or personal possessions.
“It’s a convenient excuse,” says Lawrence Myers, a veterinarian and neurophysiologist at Auburn University who is an expert on dogs’ olfactory capabilities. While dogs can indeed smell traces of drugs that are no longer visibly present, he says, “no one knows how big that really is.” When police use drug residue as an all-purpose explanation for what appear to be erroneous alerts, Myers says, “the first term that comes to mind involves a male bovine and the ingestion of grass.”
And this is why cops like to use K9s As Search Warrants.
Now check out how Christopher Jbara, a U.S. Border Patrol agent, explained an unsuccessful dog-triggered search observed by a Tucson Citizen reporter in 2008. “He said the car had most likely been contaminated on one side of the border or the other and it was likely the driver was not aware,” the Citizen reported. “He said the car’s windshield had been washed by a window washer on the street before crossing the border, and the water used to clean it could have been contaminated with bong water.”
Wow, now that’s stretching a lie pretty far, but it will stand up in court. Judges and prosecutors will back up the cop because they all sleep in the same bed and depend upon each other for their paychecks and status in the community.
But when all is said and done, fact-of-the-matter is, if a cop has a K9 as search warrant with him and he wants to search your car, your car will be searched. So be prepared. And maybe have your lawyer on speed dial.
Read the entire article in its originality:This Dog Can Send You to Jail