Drug Dogs: No Warrant Necessary
Yet another drug dog search and arrest in the news, this time from Crescent City. I'm finding these stories more and more disturbing if only for the fact they're widespread and most people seem to find them acceptable.
In this case a couple people are stopped in a car for traffic violations. A police dog is brought to the scene which is considered "...routine that he would do that.". Naturally, the dog alerts to drugs in the car and the officers search the car. And, naturally, the dog isn't used to pinpoint the supposed drugs, but gives officers cause to search the whole car.
What do they find first? Some prescription drugs, which I feel safe in saying aren't something dogs would normally alert on. If they are, that means many of us are open to having our cars searched at any time for no reason. Almost as an aside, the article mentions a couple bags of methamphetamine that were also supposedly found after the prescription drugs are found.
Fair enough with the meth since I would think dogs might be trained to alert to methamphetamine. Still, the cops once again search the whole car because of a vague alert by the dog and that leaves the whole car open to search without warrant.
And these dogs don't seem to be reliable as some might think. I've written before about one guy who was stopped by police and a drug dog alerted to drugs in his car. No drugs were found. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg.
A few weeks ago Radley Balko did a post about a police search of a couple middle schools using drug dogs. The dog alerted to drugs in student's lockers over 20 times, yet no drugs were found.
This is commonplace and it seems to be getting worse with no indication that I've heard of the courts questioning the validity of these searches. It seems the situation will only get worse, and the vast majority of us will respond with a simple shrug of our shoulders.