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.