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The Surprising Truth about Drug-Sniffing Dogs

Posted on in Drug Charges

Connecticut drug charges, Connecticut defense attorneyFor years police have use trained dogs to help them discover drugs and drug paraphernalia on citizen’s bodies, in bags, and in cars, which will lead to criminal charges. It comes as a surprise then studies show that police K-9s have high error rates.  One study reviewed Chicago police records over three years and determined that police found drugs or paraphernalia 44 percent of the time that a dog alerted an officer it smelled drugs. According to the study, the success rate fell to 22 percent when the person searched was Hispanic. 

How Drug Dogs Are Supposed to Be Used

Drug dogs are supposed to be a way for police to find drugs without infringing on the public’s constitutional rights. For example, if police pull you over for a traffic stop, officers do not have the right to search your car. 

Police need probable cause to search your car. If they do not see drugs inside, smell them or determine that the driver is under the influence of drugs, they do not have probable cause to search your vehicle. However, police can use drug-sniffing dogs because the dogs theoretically will only search for drugs. Possession of drugs is not a constitutionally protected right. 

Thus, because the drug dogs, in theory, only search for drugs without the need to fully search a person or a car, the dogs can be a valuable resource for police in ferreting out crime. 

Why the Low Success Rate?

In practice, these dogs have a low success rate and lead to searches where no drugs are recovered. Experts say that one reason for this is training. There is no standard training of police drug dogs and the training dogs receive widely varies. 

Also, the dog handlers can interfere with the dog’s ability to smell drugs. Experts say that dogs inadvertently cue the dogs by leading them too quickly or slowly. Dogs tend to be tuned into the wishes of their handlers, and for this reason, they may be more prone to give false alarms. 

Contact a Fairfield County Drug Charges Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges, you have a right to counsel, and you should get your questions answered by an attorney who can give you individualized, in-depth information. If you are interested in discussing your criminal charges with a Fairfield County, CT criminal defense attorney, contact the Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner today at 203-348-5846 for a free initial consultation.