Police dog ‘sniffed’ drugs at every traffic stop – but officers found narcotics in only 29%

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A drug-sniffing police dog in Washington reported that narcotics were in 100 percent of the vehicles he sniffed, but police found drugs in just 29 percent of them.

Karma, a K-9 with the since-disbanded Republic Police Department operating near the Washington state’s border with Canada, would signal to police officers that every vehicle he sniffed was carrying drugs.

The signal – Karma sitting down when his policeman pointed the palm of their hand at the rear panel of a vehicle – would be given whether the driver was in possession of illegal narcotics or not.

In doing so, Karma essentially gave officers a likely reason to search and confiscate any vehicle he sniffed, undermining constitutional guarantees of due process.

For the vehicle owners, this could be expensive and in some cases resulted in them spending nights in prison despite being innocent.

Similar patterns have been found across the country. A K-9 in Illinois alerted officers 93 percent of the time, but was wrong more than 40 percent of the time. A drug detection dog in Florida gave false warnings 53 percent of the time.

Another dog, Brono in Virginia, incorrectly gave the indicator for the presence of drugs in 74 percent of vehicle sniffles.

A drug-sniffing police dog in Washington state indicated that narcotics were in 100 percent of the vehicles he sniffed, even when nothing illegal was present.  Pictured: Karma, the drug-sniffing K-9 of the now-defunct Republic Police Department

A drug-sniffing police dog in Washington State indicated that narcotics were in 100 percent of the vehicles he sniffed, even when nothing illegal was present. Pictured: Karma, the drug-sniffing K-9 of the now defunct Republic Police Department

Yet despite the frequent mistakes made by sniffing dogs, courts generally treat the signals from certified narcotic dogs as foolproof. This allows law enforcement agencies to use them as permissions to enter vehicles and search people’s belongings.

Some handlers even call their K-9 police dogs “probable cause on four legs,” he said CNN.

The Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, showed a financial motive for the practice in its 2020 report entitled Police for profit.

It shows that local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have collected more than $ 68.8 billion since 2000 through a process called civil forfeiture.

The cash flow scheme allows the government to seize and keep assets without criminal conviction. The process often begins with a police investigation, which requires a probable cause. A K-9 pinch often provides just that.

Clients of the Institute of Justice have all lost money through the practice and had to fight to get it back after police dogs issued false warnings for their vehicles.

Karma, a K-9 with the since-disbanded Republic Police Department operating near Washington's border with Canada, would signal to police officers that every car he sniffed was carrying drugs

Karma, a K-9 with the since-disbanded Republic Police Department operating near Washington’s border with Canada, would signal to police officers that every car he sniffed was carrying drugs

In one case involving Karma, her vehicle was seized by real estate agent Wendy Farris of Great Falls, Montana after taking a break on a 1,300-mile round-trip drive for her grandson’s birthday party after seeing a friend off California street. had saved.

Despite the long journey, Farris was determined to attend the party, but when she felt sleepy, she parked in a safe place in Republic where a Ferry County deputy sheriff found her sleeping behind the wheel.

The deputy ordered her to take a sobriety test, but Farris – who had not previously been arrested and did not drink or use drugs or alcohol (which was later confirmed by a blood test) – was arrested on suspicion of driving while driving. drunk.

The officer then called a K-9 unit, with then police chief Loren Culp bringing Karma and leading him on a leash around Farris’s vehicle twice.

The dog gave the clue that we had drugs in the car, which was likely reason for the deputy to impound the car, and Farris – knowing that her car contained no alcohol, drugs, drug residues, paraphernalia, or weapons – was locked up.

Despite finding nothing but $ 4,956 in cash in her car – which had also been impounded – agents detained Farris this weekend. She missed her grandson’s birthday party and was billed for hygiene supplies in prison before she was eventually released.

Republic now no longer has a police department, let alone a K-9 team, but the case of Karma and others has raised the question of whether sniffer dogs should be a likely reason for officers to assemble vehicles.  Pictured: the police of the Republic

Republic now no longer has a police department, let alone a K-9 team, but the case of Karma and others has raised the question of whether sniffer dogs should be a likely reason for officers to assemble vehicles. Pictured: the police of the Republic

In other cases, Karma was lucky, with an officer finding narcotics in people’s vehicles, but in other cases, officers already had probable cause, but still led the dog around the vehicles, saying it proved its competence.

“Once again Karma’s nose knows where the drugs are,” Culp wrote in a Facebook post after a November 2018 stop that found narcotics. Culp also reported on Facebook that Karma had ‘zero misses’ in 2018 and 2019.

But the real test of Karma’s prowess would have been to walk the K-9 around in a car the officers knew there was nothing in it, and ‘zero misses’ is an indicator of a problem.

“If a dog is perfect and never misses, and never gets registered for making a mistake, then there are a few problems,” law enforcement adviser Mary Cablk told CNN. “Either the training is not rigorous or the record keeping is bad.”

According to experts, false warnings from tracking dogs have nothing to do with a dog’s nose. Instead, they likely send the signal of loyalty to their handlers.

“The tendency to produce signals, even when they don’t detect anything, stems from a desire to please the human companion,” Federico Rossano, who studies animal communication with humans at the University of California, San Diego, told CNN.

Republic now no longer has a police department, let alone a K-9 team, but the case of Karma and others has raised the question of whether sniffer dogs should be a likely reason for officers to assemble vehicles.

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