How drug sniffing by police dogs is bogus and not probable cause
Dogs are considered by the courts, as proof of probable cause, in drug cases. But, why? The fact is, it is often hit or miss with dogs sniffing for drugs. Their police handlers, intentional or not, can affect how often a dog gives a false positive for drugs in a car, or other property. Dogs are social animals and want to please their masters.
According to a Chicago Tribune analysis of three years of cases in that city of dogs sniffing for drugs or paraphernalia, only 44% of the time were they right. Now, in cases when only drug paraphernalia was found but no drugs themselves, that misleadingly increases the positive hit rate.
So the actual rate of just drugs themselves is lower than 44%. Now, while dogs can be an indicator that someone might have drugs, it doesn't arise to the level of probable cause, at less than a 50% hit rate. For example, if an indicator in stock trading was right only 44% of the time, I would clearly not use just that to make a trade.
According to dog handling experts in the same article:
"Dog handlers can accidentally cue alerts from their dogs by leading them too slowly or too many times around a vehicle, said Lawrence Myers, an Auburn University professor who studies detector dogs. Myers pointed to the "Clever Hans" phenomenon in the early 1900s, named after a horse whose owner claimed the animal could read and do math before a psychologist determined the horse was actually responding to his master's unwitting cues.
Training is the key to eliminating accidental cues and false alerts, said Paul Waggoner of Auburn's detector-dog research program.
"Is there a potential for handlers to cue these dogs to alert?" he asked. "The answer is a big, resounding yes."
The article goes on to state that when Latinos are stopped, the accuracy plummets down to a 27 percent rate. This is not surprising, because they are more likely to be targeted for stops and searches by police than the public at large. I wouldn't be surprised if the accuracy ratefor African American youth wasn't even lower.
The fact is, police might lengthen stops of cars, even if only to give the motorist a warning for speeding, in order to allow a drug sniffing by a dog. Just one of the many ways that the drug war fanatics, chip away at our rights everyday.