The Fallibility of Drug Sniffing Dogs
Radley Balko has a new article at Reason, The Mind of a Police Dog, discussing reasons why drug dogs are not as accurate as police and courts assume. It may not be the dog's fault:
The problem is our confusion about when dogs are picking up a scent and when they are responding to cues from their handlers.
....The problem is that a dog barking or sitting may be responding not to a smell but to his handler's hunch about a suspect's guilt. The reason we have a Fourth Amendment is precisely to prevent searches based on hunches.
Courts don't require warrants for K-9 searches, yet they conclude that a positive hit is probable cause for a search.
A recent Chicago Tribune study found the dogs are frequently wrong. More on the study here, and from Jacob Sullum, in A Drug-Sniffing Coin Would be Cheaper. Once again, the Fourth Amendment is going to the dogs.
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