The team assembled 18 police dogs and their handlers and gave them a routine task: go through a room and sniff out the drugs and explosives.Out of 144 runs, that happened only 21 times, for a failure rate of 85 percent.
But there was a twist. The room was clean. No drugs, no explosives.
In order to pass the test, the handlers and their dogs had to go through the room and detect nothing.
This is a critical finding because of the potential for abuse that is enabled by using dogs that are really trained to respond to handlers' cues instead of drugs or explosives.
In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (Illinois v Caballes) that police had "probable cause" to search your vehicle if a police dog detects drugs, typically by sitting, digging or barking.
That is an extraordinary power - officers working without dogs need "a reasonable belief that a person has committed a crime" for such searches. Mere suspicion is not enough, and criminal cases resulting from searches that don't meet the "probable cause" standard can be, and are, tossed out in court.
We have seen several
examples of this sort of violation on Youtube.
Here is just one of many:
This problem is not limited to any particular geographic area. And now the cops have gotten even bolder. No longer do they pretend to have probable cause. They have gone so far that even Justice Scalia (and his ever-faithful lapdog, Thomas) felt compelled to side with the majority and limit the police powers in a recent case out of Florida, (Florida v. Jardines). In that case, the cops had their dogs walk around on people's porches and then used that to justify a warrantless search of the premises.
Here is what happened: