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Fed. Court: 25% Alert Rate Good Enough for Drug Dogs

Fed. Court: 25% Alert Rate Good Enough for Drug Dogs July 3, 2012

I’ve written before about the many problems with the use of drug-sniffing dogs, the most obvious of which is that they are usually wrong when they “alert” to the presence of drugs. But a federal court has ruled that it doesn’t matter if they are wildly inaccurate, an alert is still probable cause.

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.

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…

Bono “may not be a model of canine accuracy,” Conrad wrote in an opinion filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.

However, the judge ruled that other factors, including the dog’s training and flawless performance during re-certification sessions, were enough to overcome a challenge raised by Green’s attorney, public defender Randy Cargill.

This is simply nuts. The dog has a certificate — who cares if he’s wrong 75% of the time!


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