L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 304, January 30, 2005
"How free are you...."
Supreme Court lets dogs go fishing... for drugs
Special to TLE
A new supreme court case states that cops can take dogs fishing. Dogs can go fishing for drugs in Illinois vs. Caballes.
As an attorney, I am often consulted by people victimized in searches by dogs trained to smell drugs. A drug dog's skills are often overestimated because people anthropomorphize dogs. A humanlike quality that dogs have is that they are natural libertarians with no interest in the war on drugs. http://rexcurry.net/drugdogsmain.html
I am the attorney who argued the original motion to suppress in Florida v. Gary Alan Matheson, that curbed drug dogs http://www.2dca.org/opinion/August%2001,%202003/2D00-1611.pdf
Matheson is presently awaiting decision by Florida's Supreme Court and the public has a rare opportunity to view a video of the justices questions and the arguments linked at http://www.wfsu.org/gavel2gavel/archives/05-01.html#JAN10
The Matheson case points out the lack of credibility of drug dogs and their employers. Drug dogs are often used as ruses to violate the constitutional rights of humans. It is a sign of the USA's growing police state.
Drug dogs are like humans in that they must be taught to approach peaceful people and search them, so that they can be arrested, handcuffed and imprisoned for decades under modern prohibition. That is not an easy trick to teach a dog. It's easier to teach humans.
All drug dogs are "playing a game," as are some humans who support modern prohibition. The dogs are taught using actual dog toys. The toys are a reward, and the reward is hidden with drugs to trick the dog into playing a game of searching for the toy by associating it with drug odors. Many errors can happen. There is always the danger that the dog will alert on anything that resembles or smells like its toy (towels, tennis balls, car carpet, etc.).
Cabelles holds that cops can take dogs fishing. Cabelles involved a legitimate traffic stop. Dog-fishing in parking lots or on sidewalks should still be opposed. Random drug checkpoints have already been found unconstitutional by the Court. Any case that lacks a videotape of the dog on the scene should result in rejection of testimony that the dog alerted, or did so without cueing. Drug dogs are used so that humans can lie. Motions to suppress should be made in all dog cases on the grounds that the dog is unreliable and that the training and records show that the dog cannot provide a basis for searching.
In Cabelles, Justices Souter and Ginsburg dissented, pointing to studies showing that drug dogs frequently return false positives (12.5-60% of the time, according to one study).
Moreso than in humans, the libertarianism of drug-dogs always resurfaces, and must be suppressed constantly by law enforcement retraining. Without constant retraining the dogs lose interest and stop performing accurately. Record-keeping is a must to know whether dogs are guessing, or seeing cues. Only with record keeping and independent testing can any judge draw any conclusion from the dogs game playing out on the street.
Dogs approximate humans in that they go along with the system to avoid disapproval from peers (teachers, school students, friends, etc., in the case of humans). Drug dogs do not want disapproval from their police handlers. Dogs play the game, and will try to guess and read cues, because they are searching for approval, not for drugs.
Dogs match humans in that if you influence them enough they will do anythinglike passing the 18th amendment. In modern prohibition, some dogs are slow learners as are some humans.
Let's liberate drug dogs. Return them to protecting people from violence and theft, which is also the only proper purpose of law enforcement. Dogs should be man's best friend, not man's persecutor. Drug dogs are natural libertarians.