Saturday, April 14, 2012

First principles.

In comments at Marko's asset forfeiture post, somehow things have drifted into the known unreliability of drug dogs. They are vulnerable to alerting on their handler's suspicions instead of what they smell; they can be deliberately caused to alert; they don't speak a word of English and so people's lives and fortunes hang by how well a guy claims he can tell the difference between "Yup, that's cocaine, boss," and "I'm bored, can I have a biscuit? Squirrel!"

Suppose the handler was pure as the driven snow, had a Dolittle-like ability to talk with the animals, and Rover's senses performed exactly as advertised: It is still a statistical impossibility for $12,000 in American paper money to not contain traces of dope. Dope-residue-as-probable-cause is just a license to confiscate.

Forget the dog. The dog is a Red Herringhound.

Suppose instead of the dog, they’d used one of dozens of chemical dye tests and found dope residue on the money. Does taking Fluffy the Crotch-Sniffing Four-Legged Fourth Amendment expert out of the picture make it any more right?

(HINT: No.)


Argonel said...

I would presume that the Red Herringhound is a 4th amendment dodge. If the dog alerts the evidence is considered to "be in plain sight" so they don't need to get a warrant and the can use the dogs alerting as evidence towards getting a warrant. If the cops wanted to do a chemical dye test you would think that they would need to get a judge to rubber stamp the request, making it slightly harder for them.

Ian Argent said...

The dog has Probable Paws for a detention.

Critter said...

a dog "alerting" is not "in plain sight" and a search warrant must be obtained.

Guffaw in AZ said...

Sounds like grounds for a defense strategy to me.

Anonymous said...

The "War On Drugs" has been the most unAmerican movement since Earl Warren locked up the Niesai

Al T. said...

Several years back, there was a guy who refused to grant the Boarder Patrol permission to search his car. The drug dog had alerted on his car and he was detained for most of an hour. BP refused to bring the dog back to check his car again. Finally, the BP guys broke his window and tased the guy. No dope found, but he was charged with resisting arrest or somesuch. Got into court and the dog expert testified that the dog "never" made a mistake. Never, ever, ever. If there was no dope, it was due to the suspect moving the dope, leaving the scent behind. Nice little closed logic circuit right there. No pesky 4th Amendment issues, the dog is always right. WOW! BTW, the judge through the case out of court after about 20 minutes.

toadold said...

At a plant that I used to work at the brought a drug sniffing dog around. The dog homed in on a guys roll away toll box. The guy opened up his box with a smile on his face, and sure enough...tamales, home made. It seems the dog had a weakness for them. We didn't see a drug sniffing dog around there again.

Kristophr said...

I think people would rather talk about dogs.

The status of the fourth amendment in this country is too depressing.

Ian Argent said...

When you add "unless it's important" to every governmental limitation...

Anonymous said...

I've worked with explosives dogs for better than 15 years and can tell you:

1)The dog is only as good as the handler.

2)Dogs have good days and bad days.

3) The environmental conditions at the time of the search make all the difference in the world.

4) Dogs and handlers get tired.

5) Some working dogs couldn't find bacon if it was draped across their nose.


Montie said...

Yep, what Gerry said, and that applies not to just explosives dogs but to drug dogs, tracking dogs, cadaver dogs, et al.

Remember, any K9 unit is a team of dog and handler. I have seen some dogs and handlers over the last 27 years who could damn near perform miracles and others who weren't worth the effort of calling them to a scene.

The whole forfeiture scam seemed like a good idea when it was first introduced. A way to hit the bad guys where it hurts. I'll admit I've filed a few forfeiture cases myself, but it has gotten out of hand in the LE community and has been so abused that it has turned out to be an incentive to get departments to step over the line of what's right.

Jennifer said...

Funny how when they stand to profit, they care what might be on the Benjamins.
*tunes the way back to kinda a bit back*
So I was the supervisor of the teller line at the local emporium of cash(bank). Being a college town full of fine upstanding college students, it was not terrible uncommon for said choir-boys to share a puff of their herb of choice by blowing into the carrier where they had just placed their deposit and then shipping it inside. Fun fact, those drive-thru cylinders are just air-tight enough. Yeah, causes for quite the surprise when the drive-up lanes are busy enough that you didn't spot the shenanigans.
Know what I did with those foul smelling bills? Yep, sent 'em right on back to the next unsuspecting customer in line. Thus creating loads of potential confiscations! Fun for everyone!
Anyway, I had another point.
Once, someone's deposit flew through the tubes and landed at my station. As I was counting the 100's, one was wet. And sticky. and had a particular metallic smell. I dropped two-thousand six-hundred forty-five dollars on the floor. The bill in question was soaked in blood. Not stained. Still wet. And did I mention sticky? This was not a paper-cut.
I buzzed the customer and asked if everything was alright without being specific. Customer was evasive so I sent the a receipt and thanked them for their business. Then I called the police.
You'd think they might be concerned about still wet blood soaked Benjamins. You'd be wrong. They didn't care. Told me as much.
I bagged the bill in a zip-lock and proceeded to wash my hands 20 times. I sent it back to the fed with my next cash order. It was probably a nice piece of evidence, but the local PD just didn't care.

Justthisguy said...

Way back when, when I still had access to such things, I fantasized about pouring some nasty bong water into the cabin vent intake of a cop car, when nobody was looking.