Dog is my co-pilot...
Here's how it works: An officer pulls you over because you're driving a bit too fast or a bit too slow, or because you have a broken tail light, or because you're not wearing your seat belt, or because you forgot to put your new registration sticker on your license plate. He is soon joined by another officer with a drug-sniffing dog, which "alerts" when it gets near your trunk.I like dogs. My family has three dogs and a cat. And, while I let my dogs handle some of the security iissues in my home, I am not about to trust them to tell me the good guys from the bad guys. They are all too likely to lick both in their bid for attention, just as a trained police dog is all too likely alert for any number of false reasons, but especially to please their master (even if it violates their normal training)...
Or so the officers say. You have no idea what this particular dog does when it smells contraband, and the dog isn't talking. But now the police can look in your trunk. A minor traffic stop is thus transformed into an embarrassing, invasive, intimidating, time-consuming search for illegal drugs.
This argument is based on a myth. As Justice David Souter, one of two dissenters in Illinois v. Caballes, pointed out, "the infallible dog...is a creature of legal fiction."Another Article of the Bill of Rights (the 4th, for those who don't know about the Bill of Rights) bites the dust. It is getting harder and harder to tell the good guys from the bad guys.
Souter cited examples from court cases of dogs with error rates of up to 38 percent. "Dogs in artificial testing situations return false positives anywhere from 12.5 to 60% of the time," he added.
In short, it is simply not true that a drug-sniffing dog "discloses only the presence or absence of narcotics." Even leaving aside the possibility of deliberate deception or honest error by police officers eager to turn a hunch into probable cause, the dogs themselves make mistakes, responding to subconscious cues from their handlers, alerting to food or residual odors of drugs that are no longer present, mistaking items associated with drugs for the drugs themselves, and so on.
Whatever the cause of a false alert, it exposes innocent people to the inconvenience and humiliation of drug searches they have done nothing to justify. Now that the Court has said police need no special reason to bring in the dogs, provided they are otherwise complying with the law, such searches will become more common, and they need not be limited to routine traffic stops.
Lord, help me to be the person my dog thinks I am... - Unknown