Pubdate: Sat, 26 Jan 2002
Source: Bucks County Courier Times (PA)
Copyright: 2002 Calkins Newspapers. Inc.
Author: Redford Givens


Being wrong seven times for every correct "sniff" is hardly probable cause 
for a valid search.

Before rushing to validate dog searches people should consider the track 
record of drug dogs.

The public has an exaggerated notion of how accurate drug dogs really are. 
Most folks will be astonished to learn that when the Lake City High School 
and Couer d'Alene High School (Idaho) were searched by drug dogs the dogs 
"hit" on 65 vehicles as "suspicious" resulting in all of them being 
searched. Of these 65 "hits" drugs were only found nine times (8 
misdemeanors and 1 possible felony).

In other words, drug dogs are wrong seven times more often than they are 
right. Being wrong seven times for every correct "sniff" is hardly probable 
cause for a valid search and this no doubt is the source of Hope 
Cunningham's wrath about dog searches. A drug detection program that is 
wrong almost all of the time is not something to brag about.

Drug dogs are extremely unreliable because dogs quickly lose interest in 
playing the "drug game" and respond in an extremely random manner with no 
regard for drugs. It is widely known that bomb sniffing dogs can only be 
used for a very short time before they tire of the "sniffing game" and quit 
responding whether they detect explosives or not.

The purpose of the Fourth Amendment is to prevent searches based on 
guesswork whether the guess is done by a man or a dog looking for a treat. 
Permitting searches based on a dog's untrustworthy sniffer is an evasion of 
our constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Lastly what great good is served by destroying a kid's future over a 
marijuana cigarette?

Redford Givens

San Francisco, Ca.
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