Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"Unnecessarily prolonged" traffic stops for purposes of using drug sniffing dogs.

The US Supreme Court is taking up a case related to the use of a drug-sniffing dog without a search warrant during a routine traffic stop. The Court has previously ruled that this kind of police action is permissible so long as the stop is not "unnecessarily prolonged" by the use of the drug dog.

This new case, Rodriguez v. United States, will address the issue of how long is too long.
The case arose in 2012 when a Nebraska police officer, who happened to have his K-9 dog in the car with him, stopped Dennys Rodriguez for swerving once towards the shoulder of the road. After questioning Rodriguez and issuing him a written warning for that traffic infraction, the officer sought permission to walk his drug-sniffing dog around the outside of Rodriguez’s vehicle. When Rodriguez refused to grant permission, the officer made him exit the vehicle and waited for back-up to arrive. Roughly eight minutes later, with a second officer now on the scene for support, the police dog circled the vehicle and gave an “alert” for illegal drugs. A subsequent search turned up a bag of methamphetamine.

Despite the fact that drug dogs turn up false positives as much as 74% of the time and are really nothing more than the police consciously or subconsciously motivating their dog to alert when there's absolutely nothing there, Courts continue to allow this unreliable, uncorroborated, non-uniform and un-certified practice to continue to manufacture probable cause for a search without a warrant. 
Also, the vast majority of drug dogs are allegedly trained to detect multiple illicit substances, such as cocaine, heroin, meth, and marijuana. Now that the tide across the country is rapidly moving toward legalization of marijuana the usefullness of drug dogs evaporates, as they cannot be retrained to ignore marijuana and look for other drugs instead. This would mean a massive undertaking of replacing virtually every drug dog on the force at the same time.

At a cost of up to $50,000.00 per drug dog which will lead to a violation of your rights of up to 74% of the time this is a bad policy and use of funds. The only logical decision is to end this process. 

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