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Unreasonable Suspicion: The Use of Detection K-9s to Obfuscate the 4th Amendment

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posted on Oct, 8 2009 @ 03:59 PM
The text of The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Narcotic Detection Standards from the National Narcotic Detector Dog Association:

All K-9's must find marijuana and coc aine to certify. Other narcotics are optional to certify on.
There will be two (2) statshes of each narcotic in each given area.
Cocaine Minimum amount to be used ten (grams) per stash
Maximum amount to be used twenty-eight (28) grams per stash
Marijuana Minimum amount to be used on fourth (1/4) ounce per stash
Maximum amounts to be used two (2) ounces per stash
Optional narcotics may be, but not limited to Heroin, Methamphetamine, or Opium. For these optional narcotics the quantities will stay within the limits for Cocaine.

Other standards for Explosive Detection and Cadaver Search can be seen along with Police Dog Certification at:

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: Illinois v. Caballes, 03-923, Argued November 10, 2004–Decided January 24, 2005:

After an Illinois state trooper stopped respondent for speeding and radioed in, a second trooper, overhearing the transmission, drove to the scene with his narcotics-detection dog and walked the dog around respondent’s car while the first trooper wrote respondent a warning ticket. When the dog alerted at respondent’s trunk, the officers searched the trunk, found marijuana, and arrested respondent. At respondent’s drug trial, the court denied his motion to suppress the seized evidence, holding, inter alia, that the dog’s alerting provided sufficient probable cause to conduct the search. Respondent was convicted, but the Illinois Supreme Court reversed, finding that because there were no specific and articulable facts to suggest drug activity, use of the dog unjustifiably enlarged a routine traffic stop into a drug investigation.

Held: A dog sniff conducted during a concededly lawful traffic stop that reveals no information other than the location of a substance that no individual has any right to possess does not violate the Fourth Amendment. Pp. 2—4.

-A dog sniff (real or alleged) can be used by law enforcement during any traffic stop to justify search of the vehicle and occupants, due to the decision. If one does not pull over for said traffic stop? Evading 'arrest'... also known as 'seizure'.

-Cocaine Minimum amount to be used to certify Detection Dogs is 10 grams. But detection dogs can sniff much smaller amounts of drugs, and signal their handler as such, see Corky below...

From the Ocala Star-Banner - Jan 12 1989, page 8B.,5800749&hl=en
It is a heartwarming story about a young cocker spaniel named Corky who made 4 finds in his two weeks on duty.

Three marijuana seizures totaled 106 pounds, and $21,545 in unreported currency was taken from a passengers suit jacket inner pocket.
"That one was a bonus," Meaders said. "These dogs have not been trained to react to currency. There must have been just enough coc aine or marijuana residue on the cash to ring Corky's bell."

I am sure that there are plenty of other cases that can be found online or in newspapers, documenting the extremely small amounts of scent residue the detection dogs need to alert the handler.

It also seems that at any one time, 90% of the currency in your wallet has drug residues on it.
from an article at cnnhealth:

Research presented this weekend reinforced previous findings that 90 percent of paper money circulating in U.S. cities contains traces of coc aine.

"When the machine gets contaminated, it transfers the coc aine to the other bank notes," Zuo said. These bills have fewer remnants of coc aine. Some of the dollars in his experiment had .006 micrograms, which is several thousands of times smaller than a single grain of sand.

Cities and coc aine
Bills turned up positive for coc aine in these percentages in certain cities:
100 percent: Detroit, Michigan; Boston, Massachusetts; Orlando, Florida; Miami, Florida; Los Angeles, California

88 percent: Toronto, Canada
77 percent: Salt Lake City, Utah
75 percent: Brasilia, Brazil
20 percent: Tokyo, Japan; Beijing, China
0 percent: Zhuzhou, China

Source: Yuegang Zuo, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

In 1998, Negrusz published similar findings after comparing freshly printed dollar bills that were not released to the public and money collected from a suburb near Chicago, Illinois. In the study, 92.8 percent of the bills from the public had traces of coc aine, but the uncirculated bills tested negative.

Although the contaminated bills do not affect health, Negrusz said, they could cause in a false positive drug test if a person, such as a law enforcement officer or banker, handles contaminated currency repeatedly.

Hmmm, bills in Miami, Florida, Corky's old hometown, are 100% contaminated with at least .006 micrograms of coc aine on them. So least number of bills Corky could have alerted to was, 21,500 dollars in 215 hundreds, 40 dollars in 2 twentys, and a five dollar bill. or 218 bills.

218 bills * .006 micrograms = 1.308 micrograms. For those who are unsure, that is 1.308/1,000,000 of a gram.
Sure, there was probably a lot more coc aine on there, if in fact it was coc aine and not marijuana that was on the currency.
But lets say you have 218 coc aine covered bills, and they are actually just five dollar bills. So instead of $21,545 dollars, Corky might have alerted on $1,090 dollars instead. Anyone with $1,100 dollars in five dollar bills in their possession would be a potential suspect, and probable cause would allow police officers to search you, and take your money as evidence.

This is a great impact on the civil rights of every U.S. Citizen if almost any dog can be certified as a 'Narcotic Detection Dog', not an actual human police officer who can be called to the stand in the court of law. Plus the accreditation process of K-9s seems too simple, and tasks managable in relation to the relative olfactory skills of dogs in general.

From the Wikipedia arcticle on dogs:

The olfactory bulb in dogs is roughly forty times bigger than the olfactory bulb in humans, relative to total brain size, with 125 to 220 million smell-sensitive receptors.[53] The bloodhound exceeds this standard with nearly 300 million receptors.[53] Dogs can discriminate odors at concentrations nearly 100 million times lower than humans can.[61]

I am not against the use of K-9's as an investigative tool in any instance they are certified, but have a hard time trusting the validity of an an animal certified under the current model. Instead of actually demonstrating an accountable level of skill in the test in actually finding a substance, the dog only demonstrates that it can find the object that it's handle is asking.

The amounts used in the certification testing should be much smaller, to limit the number of detection dogs who do not meet the level of skill needed to actually be used as an investigative instrument. Otherwise, the lack of a rigorous certification process allows the dogs to be used more of a tool of intimidation than investigation.


[edit on 8/10/2009 by DocMoreau]

posted on Oct, 8 2009 @ 05:25 PM
Are there any cases similar to the one above in which a dog alerted wrongly (ie no drugs)? Are bomb sniffing dogs at airports and train stations a violation of the 4th amendment? I can see your point about using dogs to perhaps circumvent the 4th, but if there hadn't been any drugs to begin with would the dog have alerted at all?

posted on Oct, 9 2009 @ 10:06 AM

Originally posted by barrelmaker
Are there any cases similar to the one above in which a dog alerted wrongly (ie no drugs)? Are bomb sniffing dogs at airports and train stations a violation of the 4th amendment? I can see your point about using dogs to perhaps circumvent the 4th, but if there hadn't been any drugs to begin with would the dog have alerted at all?

Young dogs have alerted to dog treats carried by people for their own pets. I hear that the drug dogs are corrected pretty severly for those.
Pity- The poor dogs didn't ask for the job.

posted on Oct, 10 2009 @ 12:28 AM

Originally posted by barrelmaker
I can see your point about using dogs to perhaps circumvent the 4th, but if there hadn't been any drugs to begin with would the dog have alerted at all?

If you're not doing anything wrong, why have rights at all?

Abolish all rights, who needs 'em? Not law abiding citizens, that's for sure.

posted on Oct, 10 2009 @ 04:01 AM
I have seen drug dog being worked by its handler in parking lots and the handler was writing down license numbers.

I have a good idea that handler or other officers found a reason to pull these people over for traffic stops later and use the traffic stop as a reason to search the cars,

By the way drug dog will alert on smaller amounts of grass in a small roach that has been smoked and left in the ashtray.

The burning process leaves large amounts of resin in the roach that makes it stronger to the drug dog.

Just a traffic stop to is enough to justify search in Calif.

There is a old Calif ballet proposition that was passed that makes the evidence found in a illegal search still usable in court.
And there is no law that punishes cops for illegal searches.
This gives the cops a clean way to do illegal searches without any fear of action against them

posted on Oct, 13 2009 @ 12:15 PM
reply to post by barrelmaker

Thanks for everyone's replies.

I am not sure if there are cases that the dog alerted, but found nothing. I would imagine that the police force would not likely publicize the false alert, because it would cause to many questions in regard to the training of said k9.

And let me be clear, I do not disregard the fact that dogs have excellent senses of smell. That is my point. Dogs have too keen a sense of spell in regard to the testing they are given for certification of the senses in relation to their actual skill set. This certification then allows the Police officers to react with supposed reasonable suspicion when the dog alerts. This supposed reasonable suspicion then allows the officer the legal leverage to disregard the constitutional rights of the citizen.

My main point, is that anyone who caries money in cash form could be subject to search, due to the amounts of drugs know to be on the currency, and the lax standards of certification for the dogs used to search for drugs.

Also, I am not making this claim in regard to only drugs, but any substance that the dogs are supposedly trained to search. If a supposed detection dog alerts on an individual, then they lose rights in that situation. But how are you or I to know the K9's credentials. Most American citizens would have no way to tell if the K9 engaged in a search is actually certified to do that job. There are K9 police dogs that are used strictly for intimidation and apprehending suspect through the use of force. Many of the dogs used for force, may not have any detection training or certification. They can, but many do not. But you or I probably would not know the difference based on sight, and it is doubtful that the officer would have the certification papers on hand to verify whether or not the k9 is certified for that task at all.

I would imagine that fact is used in many a traffic stop against the citizen, in order to get him to submit to a search.

You or I would also have no idea if an supposed detection dog actually is alerting to any thing at all. We must believe the word of the officer that the K9 is certified in detection, and also that the k9 has made an alert at all. But I imagine it would be much easier to train a dog to act like it has alerted to something, thereby allowing an illegal search to be condoned under the law.

It is my belief that the current use of K9s in law enforcement too lax in certification for detection, which then opens the law to violations of trust and abuse of the rights of citizens. It is my belief that the use of detection dogs, as described by many of you, is a direct violation of the spirit of the law, and should be considered unconstitutional. It also makes a mockery of the job that K9s could do, if they were certified based on true abilities, and used accordingly.


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