The nose of a drug-sniffing police dog is not so sharp, but it's good enough to support cocaine charges against Herbert Green.
That was the opinion of federal Judge Glen Conrad, who denied a motion this week to suppress the drugs found in Green's sport utility vehicle with the help of a police dog named Bono.
They found a large amount of cocaine in the suspect's car. But if you use a dog that turns out 63 false positives for every 22 successes, it seems that is unfairly stacking the odds against unreasonable search. It would make sense that dogs would have to perform to a certain percent of accuracy to be considered reason to trump our rights.Green's lawyer had argued that Bono's track record — drugs were found just 22 times out of 85 "alerts" by the dog — was so poor that police lacked probable cause to search Green's SUV.
When explaining their reasons, the judge did himself no favors.
In some cases where nothing was found after an alert by Bono, police later determined that drugs had been in the vehicle earlier, likely leaving an odor the dog was trained to detect, Neese said.Taking those cases into account, Conrad found that Bono's accuracy rate was at least 50 percent.
In determining whether police had probable cause, the judge wrote that he had to consider other factors beyond the dog's track record.
Just about every car has had trace amounts of drugs in it at some point, whether the owners knew it or not. I'm not liking the lack of numbers that suddenly bring the dog up to at least 50%, but half is still not good enough. If I did my job right only half the time, it wouldn't be my job much longer.As a federal appeals court once put it, "the reliability of a drug-detection dog does not rise or fall on the basis of one sniff."
Meanwhile, police are letting this go unchecked, giving them access to people they may not normally. And they wonder why people are naturally suspicious of law enforcement.