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Supreme Court Gets It Wrong on Drug Dogs

The Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Florida v Harris, a case challenging the use of drug dogs to establish probable cause. The early date of the ruling suggested that it was a lopsided decision and that would indicate that it went the wrong way, and that is exactly the case. In a 9-0 ruling authored by Justice Sotomayor, the justices essentially concluded that a drug dog’s “alert” was presumed to establish probable cause.

In this case, the Florida Supreme Court had set some fairly strict standards for when a drug dog’s alert would be considered presumptively valid. Here is the description of the Florida ruling from the syllabus of the SCOTUS opinion:

At a suppression hearing, Wheetley testified about his and Aldo’s extensive training in drug detection. Harris’s attorney did not contest the quality of that training, focusing instead on Aldo’s certification and performance in the field, particularly in the two stops of Harris’s truck. The trial court denied the motion to suppress, but the Florida Supreme Court reversed. It held that a wide array of evidence was always necessary to establish probable cause, including field performance records showing how many times the dog has falsely alerted. If an officer like Wheetley failed to keep such records, he could never have probable cause to think the dog a reliable indicator of drugs.

But the court rejected that position, saying in essence that a drug dog that has a valid certification should be presumed to be accurate and therefore able to establish probable cause for a full vehicle search, but that the defense can challenge that with specific pieces of evidence.

If a bona fide organization has certified a dog after testing his reliability in a controlled setting, a court can presume (subject to any conflicting evidence offered) that the dog’s alert provides probable cause to search. The same is true, even in the absence of formal certification, if the dog has recently and successfully completed a training program that evaluated his proficiency in locating drugs…

A defendant, however, must have an opportunity to challenge such evidence of a dog’s reliability, whether by cross-examining the testifying officer or by introducing his own fact or expert witnesses. The defendant, for example, may contest the adequacy of a certification or training program, perhaps asserting that its standards are too lax or its methods faulty. So too, the defendant may examine how the dog (or handler) performed in the assessments made in those settings. Indeed, evidence of the dog’s (or handler’s) history in the field, although susceptible to the kind of misinterpretation we have discussed, may sometimes be relevant, as the Solicitor General acknowledged.

So the burden of proof is on the defendant to prove that this particular drug dog is often wrong and therefore there should be no presumption of probable cause in the case. That’s backwards, of course. The burden of proof should always be on the government to show that the evidence they claim to have is valid.

One wonders if the overwhelming evidence that drug dogs in general are unreliable, that they alert a huge percentage of the time even if there are no drugs present, both in controlled tests and in the real world, would be considered adequate evidence against a specific alert by a specific dog. It certainly should be. This text suggests that it would not, since the court seems to conclude that even evidence of a specific dog’s inaccuracies in actual traffic stops is not evidence of that dog’s inaccuracy.

The Florida Supreme Court flouted this established approach by creating a strict evidentiary checklist to assess a drug-detection dog’s reliability. Requiring the State to introduce comprehensive documentation of the dog’s prior hits and misses in the field, and holding that absent field records will preclude a finding of probable cause no
matter how much other proof the State offers, is the antithesis of a totality-of-the-circumstances approach. This is made worse by the State Supreme Court’s treatment of field-performance records as the evidentiary gold standard when, in fact, such data may not capture a dog’s false negatives or may markedly overstate a dog’s false positives. Such inaccuracies do not taint records of a dog’s performance in standard training and certification settings, making that performance a better measure of a dog’s reliability. Field records may sometimes be relevant, but the court should evaluate all the evidence, and should not prescribe an inflexible set of requirements.

Say what? If drugs are only found in a small percentage of the cases in which a dog alerts in real world traffic stops, how is that not clear evidence that an alert does not show probable cause for a search? Because the dog is certified? That’s absurd. Radley Balko cited evidence that clearly shows this to be the case:

For example, in a survey of drug dogs used by police departments in suburban Chicago published last year, the Chicago Tribune found that when a police dog alerted to the presence of drugs during a traffic stop, a subsequent search turned up narcotics just 44 percent of the time. In stops involving Hispanic drivers, the dogs’ success rate dropped to 27 percent.

This raises some interesting questions: Why are drug dogs more likely to submit an innocent motorist to the indignity of a thorough roadside search if the motorist happens to be Hispanic? Are drug dogs racist? Do they racially profile? Of course not. But their handlers probably do.

Consider another study conducted by Lisa Lit, a neurologist and former dog handler at the University of California-Davis. Lit brought 18 dog/handler teams currently operating in law enforcement agencies to an empty church. Each team conducted eight searches, each lasting about five minutes. If they were accurate, none of the dog/handler teams should have alerted in any of the searches. There were no drugs or explosives anywhere in the church.

But Lit had set some traps. The handlers were told that each search could have as many as three “target scents” — drugs for the drug dog teams, or explosives for the explosive dog teams. The handlers were told that in some cases hot packages were indicated by a piece of red paper. These red paper packages were designed to trick the handlers. Lit also set a trap for the dogs: Some of the packages contained unwrapped sausages.

The results were striking. The dogs falsely alerted in 123 of the 144 total searches. Because some dogs falsely alerted more than once in the same search, the total number of false alerts was 225. The dogs correctly completed the search without an alert just 21 times, for a success rate of 14.5 percent.

But here’s the more interesting part: The dogs were about twice as likely to falsely alert at the packages designed to trick their handlers than they were at the packages stuffed with sausages.

But the Supreme Court doesn’t seem to care about such studies. As long as the dog was certified, and thus presumably did well in the testing phase of the certification program, then highly inaccurate results in the real world don’t seem to matter. But who does the certification? Either a private company that likely trains and sells the dogs to the police or the police departments themselves, both of which have a clear vested interest in maintaining the fiction that drug dogs are accurate and reliable.

This is a terrible ruling, one that makes a mockery of the 4th Amendment. And as usual, the Obama administration was on the wrong side.

Comments

  1. slc1 says

    Pretty hard to complain as it was a 9 to 0 decision. Apparently, if the dog says there are drugs there and drugs are found there, it’s sufficient. If drugs aren’t found, apparently no harm, no foul.

  2. eric says

    [Ed] One wonders if the overwhelming evidence that drug dogs in general are unreliable, that they alert a huge percentage of the time even if there are no drugs present, both in controlled tests and in the real world, would be considered adequate evidence against a specific alert by a specific dog. It certainly should be. This text suggests that it would not, since the court seems to conclude that even evidence of a specific dog’s inaccuracies in actual traffic stops is not evidence of that dog’s inaccuracy.

    These judges need to be slapped upside the head with a science stick. You don’t presumptively assume the next perpetual motion machine works until shown otherwise, you presumptively assume it doesn’t until shown otherwise. Past failure matters.

    [Quote from decision] This is made worse by the State Supreme Court’s treatment of field-performance records as the evidentiary gold standard when, in fact, such data may not capture a dog’s false negatives or may markedly overstate a dog’s false positives. Such inaccuracies do not taint records of a dog’s performance in standard training and certification settings, making that performance a better measure of a dog’s reliability.

    Hand me the science stick again, please. Controlled training tests are validated by field tests, not the other way around. If you have a valid lab test but a failed field test, the overall result is fail. Lab test conditions are recognized as not as similar to real conditions as the field test ones; the lab test provides a more limited or ideal understanding of performance, and therefore is considered less indicative of real use than the field tests. SCOTUS has completely reversed the weight and methodolgical roles of field vs. lab tests in product testing.

  3. says

    This raises some interesting questions: Why are drug dogs more likely to submit an innocent motorist to the indignity of a thorough roadside search if the motorist happens to be Hispanic?

    Oh, please! The real question is “Why aren’t we improving officer training so they get better at finding the Hispanic drugs their dogs are telling them are there?” Is it because soft-on-crime liberals don’t want to increase funding for law enforcement? Is it because their pusher is Hispanic? Real Americans® want to know!

  4. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I haven’t read this yet, and I likely won’t until summer, [and maybe not then, now that I'm not living in the states] but I wonder if the supremes authoritarian bent will yield when individualized testing programs are deemed to be deficient.

    They specifically said that training creates a [rebuttable, obviously] presumption of canine/handler competence and thus probable cause to search an area after an alert. What happens when studies like Lit are accepted by judges as valid and the people who run the training program admit that they are familiar with that/those studies? Will the program be deficient for not having made any training attempts to reduce such errors? Will the program be deficient if it has made no attempt to quantify the likelihood of such errors being made by their “graduates”?

    Inevitably some judge is going to rule that way, unless this decision is even more restrictive than is presented here. When current industry standards are shown to be lax on evidence that they are ignoring known issues, they can and should be forced to change or give up any legitimacy –according to the logic of this ruling.

    It might be that the judges want to avoid retroactive search challenges as clearly standards of training have been abysmal for years. In that case, they might even be sympathetic to new cases that make these challenges for searches made **after** this ruling put departments on notice that the mere fact that a dog is employed as a search dog does not make its indications immune to challenge.

    It will be interesting to see what happens next, as it’s clear from studies like Lit’s [assuming the methodologies and conclusions are valid, and though I haven't read Lit's I've read one and skimmed a couple of others, while reading abstracts of even more - results like hers conform to the trend and don't appear to me to be remarkable in results or conclusions] that “probable” cause is anything but.

    Though, of course, take that last bit with a grain of salt. In law “substantially certain” means anything that “reasonably might occur”. If there are 2 people in your vicinity, each 15-20 meters away with no obstructions between you and them, and you put on a blindfold, spin around and let a wrench go as hard as you can, you have about a 1-in-40 to 1-in-60 chance of hitting one of those two folks…assuming that you threw it far enough and that you didn’t throw it too high. Actual chance might be much lower depending on your strength, ceiling height, etc.

    Yet, striking someone in this circumstance is well within the definition of “substantially certain” in Canadian law, and probably any other Common Law jurisdiction that uses that phrase.

    I could see modifying certain with “substantially” in cases where there’s an 80 or 90% chance of something happening, or perhaps even a smaller chance if the odds of something happening were 99%+ when nothing intervenes, but intervention is common (I’m going to hit the pedestrian with my car, but most pedestrians will – through no credit to me – will see or hear my car and do everything in their power to jump out of the way).

    But something is “substantially certain” when, even without intervention to prevent it, an outcome is less than 5% likely to be caused by my actions?

    Forgive my long aside, but it is this travesty of the English language that makes me despair of any reasonable interpretation of “probable” in the context of issuing warrants when “substantially certain” is so utterly unrecognizable.

  5. trucreep says

    NPR:

    Writing for a unanimous court, Justice Elena Kagan said that requiring an inflexible performance checklist as the gold standard for canine reliability defies common sense.

    Instead, the justices said, courts should generally consider a dog sniff as reliable if the dog has completed and passed a certified training program that includes controlled performance tests.

    “This tells us that the Supreme Court is not going to interfere in the use of drug-sniffing dogs,” said Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University. “That’s enough for a court to presume that the dog’s alert is probable cause and a defense attorney can try to challenge that, but they’re going to face a little bit of an uphill battle.”

  6. Ben P says

    The only surprise here is that it was 9-0, most Court watchers expected 1-2 dissents. Stevens certainly would have dissented. It may well be the case that Kagan and Sotomayor are somewhat more police friendly than the justices they replaced.

    These judges need to be slapped upside the head with a science stick. You don’t presumptively assume the next perpetual motion machine works until shown otherwise, you presumptively assume it doesn’t until shown otherwise. Past failure matters.

    What you’re missing here is the applicable standard.

    Probable cause is a reasonable belief supported by specific, articulate facts, that drugs might be present. Stepping out of the “search” area, for example, probable cause to arrest someone for driving while intoxicated might be witnessing a traffic infraction, the person having bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. Officers typically conduct field sobriety tests and field breathalyzers, but even in the absence of field sobriety tests, that is still probable cause.

    While the judges didn’t explicitly lay this out, I can reasonably guess that the logic behind most of the Judge’s reasoning in this case is that If a dog is certified to be able to detect drugs in controlled conditions, the fact that he generates false positives doesn’t automatically lead to the conclusion that there can’t be any reasonable belief that drugs might be present.

    Then it’s up to a defense attorney to argue that the dog’s record is so bad that an officer’s belief drugs are present must have been unreasonable.

  7. Ben P says

    Expanding on the example.

    Erratic Driving + Slurred Speech + Bloodshot eyes = probable cause to arrest for intoxication. Are there many other reasons why a driver could have slurred speech and bloodshot eyes? Absolutely. But the officer’s aren’t required to rule out contrary explanations because that doesn’t matter to a probable cause finding. Those two facts give rise to a reasonable belief that the person might be intoxicated.

    I can tell you with a near certainty that the Supreme Court wasn’t going to say that drug dogs can never create probable cause, and I think most people familiar with the area thought it possible that the Supreme Court wouldn’t create a constitutional rule based on a specific dog’s track record, that would have been horribly messy.

    that really only leaves a narrow range of decisions where the Supreme COurt does basically what they did. The presumption could go the other way, officers have to establish a dogs reliability before PC exists, but that would just be a matter of the officer testifying that he’s known his dog to be reliable in the field. Or, as the court said here, that a certification creates an presumption of reliability that can be rebutted.

  8. DaveL says

    Or, as the court said here, that a certification creates an presumption of reliability that can be rebutted.

    And this is where they are wrong. There’s a great deal of evidence that such a presumption is not warranted. Given the currently prevailing standards of dog training and handling, it should be clear to any objective observer that these certifications aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

    When the police use an investigative technique that is demonstrably bogus, the courts should refuse to recognize its validity, no matter how inconvenient that may be for the police.

  9. tmscott says

    If I buy, for example, a pH meter for the lab, I want one that has gone through quality controls and carries a certificate of accuracy. That doesn’t mean that I won’t calibrate it every time before I use it.

    Granted, dogs are not electrochemical instruments, but they are biochemical sensors being used as instruments. Their output should be treated with the same skepticism.

  10. Ichthyic says

    Pretty hard to complain as it was a 9 to 0 decision

    I’m curious as to the logic underlying that statement.

  11. Ichthyic says

    If a dog is certified to be able to detect drugs in controlled conditions

    ah, but therein lies the rub.

    I’ve seen lots of published, objective, controlled studies that support the idea that this is not so.

  12. harold says

    If a right wing hate group extremist is at the airport about to board a flight for Washington DC, an explosive sniffing dog takes notice of him, and he does turn out to be carrying explosives, how do you like this defense – “Explosive sniffing dogs aren’t sufficienttly accurate, therefore security shouldn’t have paid attention to the dog in the first place, therefore the search violated the fourth amendment, therefore I should be acquitted on the grounds of an illegal search”.

    Because that’s essentially the argument that SCOTUS rejected.

    I hope everyone understands this. The irritation of a negative search due to a mistaken drug sniffing dog may be relevant, but not to this decision. It doesn’t deal with that situation. Likewise, I don’t think that law enforcement should waste resources searching adults for drugs, and I don’t think anyone should go to prison for personal use of drugs, or sale of drugs to competent consenting adults, but all of that is irrelevant to this decision.

    This decision asks “If a drug sniffing dog thought he or she smelled drugs on you, and the cops did indeed find drugs, should that case be thrown out because, since drug sniffing dogs are severely inaccurate, the cops had no probable cause to search in the first place?”.

    There is an argument to be made that, even with drugs illegal (separate issue), drug sniffing dogs aren’t accurate enough to even bother with. However, there are counter-arguments as well. When not exposed to biasing situations, dogs can efficiently detect substances at remarkably low concentrations.

    But Lit had set some traps. The handlers were told that each search could have as many as three “target scents” — drugs for the drug dog teams, or explosives for the explosive dog teams. The handlers were told that in some cases hot packages were indicated by a piece of red paper. These red paper packages were designed to trick the handlers. Lit also set a trap for the dogs: Some of the packages contained unwrapped sausages.

    This is interesting, but it does not test the hypothesis “drug sniffing dogs are routinely so inaccurate that their results don’t even rise to probable cause”. That may be true (SCOTUS decided not, but it may be), but that isn’t what this experiment tests.

    This experiment tests the hypothesis “can biased handlers manipulate dogs into false positive reporting”. That answer, unsurprisingly, appears to be “yes”. That’s very valuable information, but does not necessarily apply to all cases where an investigation is initiated by a substance sniffing dog.

  13. Ichthyic says

    This decision asks “If a drug sniffing dog thought he or she smelled drugs on you, and the cops did indeed find drugs, should that case be thrown out because, since drug sniffing dogs are severely inaccurate, the cops had no probable cause to search in the first place?”.

    NO.

    you are all missing the big objection here.

    the question SHOULD have been:

    CAN police abuse the use of probable cause by using drug sniffing dogs.

    If you think for even the tiniest of seconds, the phrase “Clever Hans” should have popped into your head.

    this is a complete fail on the part of SCOTUS to consider the potential for abuse here, abuse that is not only plausible, but has been shown to have a history AND been demonstrated under controlled conditions.

  14. DaveL says

    This decision asks “If a drug sniffing dog thought he or she smelled drugs on you, and the cops did indeed find drugs, should that case be thrown out because, since drug sniffing dogs are severely inaccurate, the cops had no probable cause to search in the first place?”.

    And the answer is YES!

    Shall we try this with a few word substitutions?

    “If the cops believed their tarot cards indicated you were carrying drugs, and the cops did indeed find drugs, should the case be thrown out because, since tarot cards are severely inaccurate, the cops had no probable cause to search in the first place?”

    “If the cops’ magic 8-ball indicated you were carrying drugs, and the cops did indeed find drugs, should the case be thrown out because, since magic 8-balls are severely inaccurate, the cops had no probable cause to search in the first place?”

    “If the cops had a hunch you were carrying drugs, and the cops did indeed find drugs, should the case be thrown out because, since hunches are severely inaccurate, the cops had no probable cause to search in the first place?”

  15. DaveL says

    This experiment tests the hypothesis “can biased handlers manipulate dogs into false positive reporting”. That answer, unsurprisingly, appears to be “yes”. That’s very valuable information, but does not necessarily apply to all cases where an investigation is initiated by a substance sniffing dog.

    That is quite possibly one of the most naive things I’ve read on the internet today. The experiment demonstrates the dogs’ responses are far more strongly indicative of the officers’ preconceptions than of the actual experimental condition. Since we do not consider the preconceptions of police to rise to the level of probable cause, we certainly should not grant that distinction to an indicator so tightly bound to it.

  16. says

    DaveL “The experiment demonstrates the dogs’ responses are far more strongly indicative of the officers’ preconceptions than of the actual experimental condition.”
    You’re both missing the critical question: Are german shepherds racist?

  17. jameshanley says

    The Founders didn’t know statistics, so statistical analysis is not relevant to constitutional analysis.

    At least that seems to be the Court’s message.

  18. dmcclean says

    Ed,
    I agree that this is an atrocious ruling on the merits.

    As a matter of law and practice, do you think that once this is remanded the lower court could consider the “totality of the circumstances”, to wit that records demonstrate that this dog is inaccurate, and rule for this specific defendant again?

  19. DaveL says

    If a right wing hate group extremist is at the airport about to board a flight for Washington DC, an explosive sniffing dog takes notice of him, and he does turn out to be carrying explosives, how do you like this defense –

    Since 9/11/2001, I’ve had to listen to a litany or right-wing extremists insisting that we can no longer afford “technicalities” like habeas corpus, or due process, or public trials, or the right to counsel, or against self-incrimination, because bad people. I find the argument is just as awful when framed against them rather than by them.

  20. harold says

    This experiment tests the hypothesis “can biased handlers manipulate dogs into false positive reporting”. That answer, unsurprisingly, appears to be “yes”. That’s very valuable information, but does not necessarily apply to all cases where an investigation is initiated by a substance sniffing dog.

    That is quite possibly one of the most naive things I’ve read on the internet today.

    Then you go on to say largely the same thing in different words.

    The experiment demonstrates the dogs’ responses

    Dogs false reporting

    are far more strongly indicative of the officers’ preconceptions than of the actual experimental condition.

    Biased handlers, manipulating dogs

    than of the actual experimental condition. Since we do not consider the preconceptions of police to rise to the level of probable cause, we certainly should not grant that distinction to an indicator so tightly bound to it

    “If the cops believed their tarot cards indicated you were carrying drugs, and the cops did indeed find drugs, should the case be thrown out because, since tarot cards are severely inaccurate, the cops had no probable cause to search in the first place?

    These are good paraphrases of the argument that the Supreme Court rejected. “Dogs are so inaccurate that they are either no better than some totally random indicator (or purely act according to perception of handlers’ wishes without regard for actual odors, which is a different claim, but operationally about the same), therefore they can’t be considered probable cause”.

    I typically agree extremely strongly with Ed Brayton’s blogs, but in this case, I’m not as convinced as usual.

    The way to convince me further would be to present more data, making a stronger case that drug-sniffing dogs go beyond merely being imperfect indicators, to being so bad that they don’t even meet the barrier for probable cause. All other types of communication, including, but not limited to, inaccurate accusations of low intelligence or poor character, or semantic wrangling about what words “really mean”, will have the same impact, that is, none whatsoever.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just saying I’m not convinced that it is straightforward that you are correct.

    The “war on drugs” is insane and abusive, and provokes all kinds of violations, with or without the use of dogs, but that isn’t the question here.

    Granted, dogs are not electrochemical instruments, but they are biochemical sensors being used as instruments. Their output should be treated with the same skepticism.

    A correctly calibrated pH meter gives you the definitive pH. The analogy to probable cause would be what makes you decide to measure the pH in the first place. No-one on either side argued that if a dog sniffs someone, case closed, that always means drugs, in the way that a correct pH meter reading more or less always gives the pH. Probable cause does not require a definitive finding. It is what justifies beginning an investigation.

    When a case is overturned on probable cause basis, that means that the investigation was unjustified so the findings must be discarded. For example, someone called the police to report a recently stolen television, and I happen to drive by a police car in the area with an unpacked television in my car, that’s likely probable cause to ask me some questions, even if it turns out that the television in my car is not stolen.

    On the other hand, if the police break into my dwelling for no reason, investigate my television for no reason, and find out that it was stolen, that case should be overturned for lack of probable cause.

    Notice that whether the television is stolen or not is not the issue, it’s whether or not there is adequate justification to investigate the television at all.

    Anyway, time to stop.

  21. kantalope says

    The real problem is that there is no deterrent to illegal searches if a positive illegal search has no repercussions. Per harold above. If the cops search every house – and they get to prosecute if they find any evidence of any crime…well those bad people deserved it. In the cases where no evidence of a crime was found – well those people were not prosecuted were they?

    Cop: sit, rover, sit.
    There you go. The dog alerted. Probable cause is established and the search is legal.

    The fourth amendment is dead. Why won’t the supreme court just admit it?

  22. lancifer says

    The fourth amendment is dead. Why won’t the supreme court just admit it?

    Sadly, I agree with this postmortem.

  23. Ichthyic says

    “Dogs are so inaccurate that they are either no better than some totally random indicator (or purely act according to perception of handlers’ wishes without regard for actual odors, which is a different claim, but operationally about the same), therefore they can’t be considered probable cause”.

    nope, you’re still missing the real argument here, it’s not that the dogs are inaccurate. SCOTUS actually implied this WAS the argument made as an objection, when it wasn’t.

    instead, the argument was, and still IS, the fact that dogs can and have been used as an ABUSE of probable cause.

    this is what the studies have shown, this is what history has shown, but the court simply ignored this in favor of rejecting an argument that wasn’t the core issue at all.

    it’s a complete fail on the part of SCOTUS.

    now being repeated by yourself.

  24. Ichthyic says

    On the other hand, if the police break into my dwelling for no reason, investigate my television for no reason, and find out that it was stolen, that case should be overturned for lack of probable cause.

    but now they can post-hoc claim a dog sniff lead them to have probable cause.

    oops.

    same lack of reason, but now excused by dog.

    fail.

  25. DaveL says

    Then you go on to say largely the same thing in different words.

    No, not the same thing. Because this:

    does not necessarily apply to all cases where an investigation is initiated by a substance sniffing dog.

    Is nonsense. If the handler is present, he or she is cueing the dog, whether they want to or not. Obedience trainers make a living off of people who can’t understand their dog’s behavior, unaware they’ve been cueing it all along.

    The way to convince me further would be to present more data, making a stronger case that drug-sniffing dogs go beyond merely being imperfect indicators, to being so bad that they don’t even meet the barrier for probable cause.

    Well, let’s start with the UC Davis study, that showed an 85% false positive rate in a known all-negative field. The Chicago Tribune investigation shows a false positive rate of 56% – 73% in a situation where police have already decided to stop a vehicle and bring in a drug dog. In 2006 an extensive review in Australia found a false positive rate of 74%. A survey by the Huffington Post found 35 hits out of 136 searches, a 74% false-positive rate.

    The police officer might as well put a literal sock puppet on his hand and have it testify it saw you put drugs in your pocket.

    In retrospect, this should not surprise us. After all, we’re sophisticated enough to know that people can be cued, consciously or unconsciously, and so we’ve devised elaborate blinding and control procedures for such things as eyewitness ID lineups. Bring a dog into the picture, however, and we act like it’s an unthinking instrument, rather than a social animal like us. A mistake, as it turns out.

  26. laurentweppe says

    Are drug dogs racist? Do they racially profile?

    Hmmm: I smell it: this fucker own a dalmatian: ok mister inbred-idiot-lover, look at me ordering my Human to dismantle your car piece by piece, that will teach you!

    But here’s the more interesting part: The dogs were about twice as likely to falsely alert at the packages designed to trick their handlers than they were at the packages stuffed with sausages.

    Proof that dogs are more honest than human cops. It should therefore be considered to give dogs the right to bear arms and to vote.

  27. says

    Thank you for covering this, Ed. I’ve been disappointed by the fact that no one in the Skeptic movement has said anything about this. It seems drug dogs fit somewhere between dowsing rods and lie detector tests in their accuracy so it should be a subject Skeptics attact but it’s just not happening.

  28. Ichthyic says

    It seems drug dogs fit somewhere between dowsing rods and lie detector tests in their accuracy

    again, it’s not even the accuracy that is the main issue!

    It’s that dogs can be both conscsiously and subconsciously manipulated into false positives.

    this has been show repeatedly, through not just one, but several studies, and was ENTIRELY ignored by the SCOTUS in ruling on this case, even though it was directly introduced as an argument.

  29. Ichthyic says

    ..Joachim…

    just STFU and save as all headaches, since Ed never bothers to ban idiots like yourself.

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