I’ve written before about the many problems with drug-sniffing dogs, which have an astonishingly high rate of being wrong. A new lawsuit filed by a group of state police officers in Nevada could reveal those problems in stark detail — and make it even worse than I thought it was.
A group of Nevada Highway Patrol troopers and a retired police sergeant have filed a racketeering complaint against the NHP and Las Vegas Metro Police in U.S. District Court.
The complaint alleges that after then-Gov. Jim Gibbons approved a K-9 program to target drug runners on Nevada’s highways, Nevada Highway Patrol Commander Chris Perry intentionally undermined the program.
The complaint alleges that the drug-sniffing dogs used by troopers in the program were intentionally being trained to operate as so-called trick ponies, or dogs that provide officers false alerts for the presence of drugs.The dogs were being trained to alert their handlers by cues, instead of by picking up a drug’s scent by sniffing, the complaint said. When a dog gives a false alert, this resulted in illegal searches and seizures, including money and property, the complaint said.
You combine the fraud of drug-sniffing dogs with the fraud of asset forfeiture and you have what amounts to a legal highway robbery ring in our police departments. You can read the complaint here. It’s absolutely remarkable and this case will be very interesting to watch.