IL: Tribune analysis: Drug-sniffing dogs in traffic stops often wrong

Discussion in 'The Drug War Headline News' started by claygooding, Jan 7, 2011.

  1. claygooding claygooding

    • DrugWarVeteran
    • Since: May 13, 2009
    • Posts: 9,611
    IL: Tribune analysis: Drug-sniffing dogs in traffic stops often wrong
    ChicagoTribune / Dan Hinkel and Joe Mahr /January 6, 2011

    High number of fruitless searches of Hispanics' vehicles cited as evidence of bias

    [IMG]
    Shane, a drug dog for the Gurnee Police Department, is trained in finding drugs, but an analysis shows such dogs are often mistaken. (Keri Wiginton, Chicago Tribune / December 21, 201

    Drug-sniffing dogs can give police probable cause to root through cars by the roadside, but state data show the dogs have been wrong more often than they have been right about whether vehicles contain drugs or paraphernalia.

    The dogs are trained to dig or sit when they smell drugs, which triggers automobile searches. But a Tribune analysis of three years of data for suburban departments found that only 44 percent of those alerts by the dogs led to the discovery of drugs or paraphernalia. For Hispanic drivers, the success rate was just 27 percent.


    Dog-handling officers and trainers argue the canine teams' accuracy shouldn't be measured in the number of alerts that turn up drugs. They said the scent of drugs or paraphernalia can linger in a car after drugs are used or sold, and the dogs' noses are so sensitive they can pick up residue from drugs that can no longer be found in a car.


    But even advocates for the use of drug-sniffing dogs agree with experts who say many dog-and-officer teams are poorly trained and prone to false alerts that lead to unjustified searches. Leading a dog around a car too many times or spending too long examining a vehicle, for example, can cause a dog to give a signal for drugs where there are none, experts said.


    "If you don't train, you can't be confident in your dog," said Alex Rothacker, a trainer who works with dozens of local drug-sniffing dogs. "A lot of dogs don't train. A lot of dogs aren't good." The dog teams are not held to any statutory standard of performance in Illinois or most other states, experts and dog handlers said, though private groups offer certification for the canines.


    Civil rights advocates and Latino activists say the findings support complaints that police unfairly target Hispanic drivers for invasive and embarrassing roadside vehicle searches. "We know that there is a level of racial profiling going on, and this is just another indicator of that," said Virginia Martinez, a
    Chicago-based staff attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

    Adam Schwartz, an attorney for the
    American Civil Liberties Union in Illinois, said the innocent suffer from unjustified searches. "We've seen a national outcry about being frisked and scanned at airports," Schwartz said. "The experience of having police take your car apart for an hour is far more invasive and frightening and humiliating."

    Police insist no racial profiling


    The Tribune obtained and analyzed data from 2007 through 2009 collected by the state Department of Transportation to study racial profiling. But the data are incomplete. IDOT doesn't offer guidance on what exactly constitutes a drug dog alert, said spokesman Guy Tridgell, and most departments reported only a handful of searches based on alerts. At least two huge agencies — the
    Chicago Police Department and Illinois State Police — reported none.

    The Tribune asked both agencies for their data, butstate police could not provide a breakdown of how often their dog alerts led to seizures, and Chicago police did not provide any data.


    That leaves figures only for suburban departments. Among those whose data are included, just six departments averaged at least 10 alerts per year, with the top three being the
    McHenry County sheriff's department, Naperville police and Romeoville police.

    Romeoville did not respond to requests for comment, but Naperville and
    McHenry County authorities insisted there was no racial profiling and defended the performance of their dogs and handlers.

    The McHenry County
    's sheriff's department had the most dog alerts,
    finding drugs or paraphernalia in 32 percent of 103 searches. In the eight searches on Hispanic drivers, officers reported finding drugs just once.
    Since September 2008, Deputy Jeremy Bruketta has handled Sage, one of the McHenry County department's two drug-sniffing German shepherds. Officers sometimes come up empty-handed in searches of vehicles that clearly once contained drugs, he said, recalling a traffic stop in which a man, reeking of pot, had a marijuana stem stuck to his shirt but no drugs were found in the car.

    In Naperville, 47 percent of searches turned up drugs or paraphernalia, though searches on Hispanic drivers turned up drugs in only one of 12 traffic stops, for a rate of 8 percent. Officer Eddie Corneliusen, who handles Kairo, one of Naperville's two police dogs, also cited drug residue and said he's "confident that (the dog) is hitting on the odor of narcotics."


    Inconsistent training and standards


    Experts and trainers agree that residue could be to blame for some false positives. In a cavernous, chilly building at the abandoned former
    Lake County Fairgrounds, Rothacker, the trainer, demonstrated the dogs' ability to pinpoint not only drugs, but also residue.

    Rothacker, who works with some 60 area police dogs and handlers at TOPS Kennels in
    Grayslake, rubbed a bag of marijuana against a cinder block in the wall. Two German shepherds he trained alerted on the block with little hesitation, earning sessions of play with handlers who control the dogs' beloved chew toys. But Rothacker said false alerts can't be blamed on residue alone. Rothacker, who trained dogs for both Naperville and McHenry County, said many trainers use suspect methods and some handlers are "very lazy" about training their dogs. After initial intensive instruction for dog and handler, Rothacker offers twice-weekly training to handlers diligent enough to keep showing up, he said. "The dogs are only as good as the handlers," he said.

    Experts said police agencies are inconsistent about the level of training they require and few states mandate training or certification. Jim Watson, secretary of the North American Police Work Dog Association, said a tiny minority of states require certification, though neither he nor other experts could say exactly how many.


    A federally sponsored advisory commission has recommended a set of best practices, though they are not backed by any legal mandate.


    Illinois state Rep. Jim Durkin, R-
    Western Springs, sponsored a bill in 2007 that would have created a certification board responsible for setting standards that all police dogs would have to meet, but the bill died in a Senate committee after passing in the House. Durkin, a former Cook County prosecutor who referred to police dogs as "probable cause with four legs," said he may push the legislation again. "This one makes sense," he said.

    State Rep. Monique Davis wants the drug-dog issue vetted by a state panel on racial profiling. Davis, D-Chicago, co-sponsored a 2004 law to collect the police data. Seven years later, she said racial profiling remains a problem. "This is the kind of information the commission is supposed to discuss," she said.


    False cues


    Civil rights advocates and detector-dog experts said the lack of regulation or standards has led police to subject innocent drivers to prolonged, humiliating roadside searches.


    The state's data — in which drivers and officers aren't identified — show that the average false alert led to a stop lasting nearly a half-hour. One Crystal Lake search led to a three-hour stop for a Hispanic man in 2007. He was stopped for a license plate/registration violation, according to the data.


    The main check on the competency of a dog-handling officer comes in court, where a defense lawyer may question a dog's ability to sniff out drugs. But, by their nature, the stops that don't lead to drug seizures don't get reviewed by a judge. The limited court oversight and lack of uniform standards leave vast discrepancies in the skills of dog-and-officer teams, experts agreed.


    Dog handlers can accidentally cue alerts from their dogs by leading them too slowly or too many times around a vehicle, said Lawrence Myers, an Auburn University professor who studies detector dogs. Myers pointed to the "Clever Hans" phenomenon in the early 1900s, named after a horse whose owner claimed the animal could read and do math before a psychologist determined the horse was actually responding to his master's unwitting cues.


    Training is the key to eliminating accidental cues and false alerts, said Paul Waggoner of Auburn's detector-dog research program. "Is there a potential for handlers to cue these dogs to alert?" he asked. "The answer is a big, resounding yes."


    That frustrates Martinez, the attorney from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Dogs do not have the human failings that have led to the targeting of minorities, but Martinez worries that an officer's bias can translate through the dog leash. She fears drug-sniffing dogs are another tool to justify roadside searches of innocent drivers, the unfair consequences of what she called "driving while Mexican."


    "People of color are just targets," she said.
  2. claygooding claygooding

    • DrugWarVeteran
    • Since: May 13, 2009
    • Posts: 9,611
    Dogs are like the Supreme Court. Often wrong.

    Dogs are like the Supreme Court. Often wrong.
    DrugWarRant
    / Pete Guither / 12,7,2011


    One of the worst Supreme Court decisions of recent years was Caballes v. Illinois, where Justice Stevens wrote for the majority that merely having a dog accuse you was enough to justify a 4th Amendment search with no other suspicion needed. He wrote:
    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.”
    … and with that, he put the Supreme Court seal of approval on police fishing expeditions.

    He wrote that as if the Fourth Amendment was merely an issue of criminals’ rights as opposed to citizens’ rights. And apparently, in the world of most of the Justices, dogs are completely infallible, because absolutely no thought was given to the rights of innocent drivers not to have their cars ripped apart on the side of the highway.

    The Supremes completely failed in part because they didn’t demand proof of canine infallibility, and also because they failed to understand statistical math. We went ahead and crunched the numbers to show that even high-percentage-success dogs will infringe the rights of a horrific number of innocent citizens.

    A few years later, I revisited Caballes while reviewing a piece of absolute rubbish by James B. Johnston of Seton Hall University, who fawned over Stevens’ horrible decision without an ounce of research or thought.
    Just last month, someone (perhaps Johnston) left a message stating that:
    Since you are such an expert on Mr. Johnston and his “drivel” note this. His article was cited as an authority in a brief filed by the Florida Attorney General’s Office to the Florida Supreme Court. The case was a drug sniffing dog case. Guess what. The Forida AG won. Some “drivel” . You and your fellow apologists for the drug trade really need to get over yourselves..
    That doesn’t make it not drivel. It just means that the Florida Supreme Court was also dead wrong, and Johnston just helped them screw it up.
    Well, just in case anybody still believed that this was a good decision, some hard data is now out.

    [Chicago] Tribune analysis: Drug-sniffing dogs in traffic stops often wrong
    — High number of fruitless searches of Hispanics’ vehicles cited as evidence of bias.
    The dogs are trained to dig or sit when they smell drugs, which triggers automobile searches. But a Tribune analysis of three years of data for suburban departments found that only 44 percent of those alerts by the dogs led to the discovery of drugs or paraphernalia.
    For Hispanic drivers, the success rate was just 27 percent.
    For Hispanic drivers, the success rate was just 27 percent. That means that when you see a couple of police cars on the highway with their lights flashing, with officers going through a car, searching through the trunk, while some poor Hispanic youth stands nervously by, 73 percent of the time, the driver was innocent. Of course, the search took a long time, so by now maybe he was late to his job (“Why were you late?” “The police were searching my car.”) or maybe even to a date.

    It’s not victimless. And clearly, based on the numbers, not only are Hispanics being targeted, but it’s likely that the officers are passing on to their canines their desire that the Hispanic be a druggie (and dogs are often eager to please).
    “Is there a potential for handlers to cue these dogs to alert?” he asked. “The answer is a big, resounding yes.”
    That frustrates Martinez, the attorney from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

    Dogs do not have the human failings that have led to the targeting of minorities, but Martinez worries that an officer’s bias can translate through the dog leash. She fears drug-sniffing dogs are another tool to justify roadside searches of innocent drivers, the unfair consequences of what she called “driving while Mexican.”

    “People of color are just targets,” she said.
    I really love the way law enforcement responds to this study:
    Dog-handling officers and trainers argue the canine teams’ accuracy shouldn’t be measured in the number of alerts that turn up drugs. They said the scent of drugs or paraphernalia can linger in a car after drugs are used or sold, and the dogs’ noses are so sensitive they can pick up residue from drugs that can no longer be found in a car.
    Oh, that’s convenient. Just claim that every innocent person that was targeted probably had the smell of pot on their jacket and that’s why Spot alerted.

    Well, if that’s the case, then make it illegal to smell like drugs and then prove in court that there was a physical odor present. Otherwise, it’s just a convenient unprovable excuse for you to justify the unlawful violation of people’s Fourth Amendment rights.

    And… “accuracy shouldn’t be measured in the number of alerts that turn up drugs” Really? How should it be measured? You don’t get to just pretend that searches of innocent citizens didn’t happen.
  3. Buzzby Buzzby

    • Buddhist Curmudgeon
    • Since: Aug 27, 2004
    • Posts: 40,846
    I got pulled over in Missouri for going 3 mph over the speed limit while other cars were speeding past me. I was pulled over, not because I was speeding, but because I was driving a rented SUV with out-of-state plates.

    The cop asked to search my vehicle. I refused on the basis that there was no reason to search just because I was 3 mph over the limit. They brought in a "drug-sniffing dog". This dog alerted (by sitting down) on the first police car and then on a rock by the side of the road. The K9 officer walked the dog around my vehicle three times until it sat down. Then they searched and found a couple of joints in my backpack. They confiscated them, apologized for the inconvenience, and sent me on my way.

    I wanted to ask why they didn't search the cruiser or the rock. But, since they let me go, I didn't want to antagonize them.
    4 people like this.
  4. HappyBoy1981 HappyBoy1981

    • Senior DEA Agent
    • Since: Jul 31, 2010
    • Posts: 4,936

    You were lucky as they could have hammered you. You didn't fool the dog. You did have drugs on you but you lied (which is understandable). Some cops would have thrown the book at you for lying to them.
  5. reggie_the_dog reggie_the_dog

    • Sr. Member
    • Since: Feb 20, 2004
    • Posts: 1,613
    every time a dog searched me they were wrong

    i dont know how many times those dogs said i had drugs but luckily for me it was all the times i didnt have any drugs that they signaled. Other times the dog did not smell an eighth in my underwear, another time i walked right between 2 dogs on a cta train in chicago with a quarter pound in my backpack that i had just bought at the university i studied at and was taking home, and on a train from brussels belgium to france the drug dogs passed right by my 5 grams of hash in the pocket under my 1 year old daughter who was on my knee.... just dont get scared and the majority of the time you have nothing to worry about
  6. HappyBoy1981 HappyBoy1981

    • Senior DEA Agent
    • Since: Jul 31, 2010
    • Posts: 4,936

    Yea Yea, go ahead and carry drugs on you. The dogs will never catch you. :rolleyes:

    I'm going to nominate you for Father of the Year.
  7. reggie_the_dog reggie_the_dog

    • Sr. Member
    • Since: Feb 20, 2004
    • Posts: 1,613
    happy

    seeing as i smoke weed i have to carry it. like i said i have been lucky with the dogs. also when coming from belgium to france would you rather my 5 grams of hash had been in my other pocket? what difference does it make if my kid was sitting on the pocket my hash was in? are we supposed to quit smoking because we have kids?
  8. HappyBoy1981 HappyBoy1981

    • Senior DEA Agent
    • Since: Jul 31, 2010
    • Posts: 4,936
    Why don't you just give it to the kid to carry? Tell her its your "candy". That way she'll be in the dark about it and she can take the hit for your bullshit.:rolleyes:

    Mod Note: This is straight trolling and you can take a vacation for seven days. One post of sarcasm I might allow, but this is a whole threads worth........Dedbr.......
  9. reggie_the_dog reggie_the_dog

    • Sr. Member
    • Since: Feb 20, 2004
    • Posts: 1,613
    if my kid start smoking hash as a teenager she can carry

    her own, until then i will carry my own. she knows what hash is, it is what daddy smokes. she sometimes sees my pipe, lighter and jar on the table and brings them to me while i am on the computer. she knows that daddy and other "big people" smoke it but that kids do not. I imagine they you have never possessed neither, cannabis, nor tobacoo, nor alcohol around you children.....:angel:
  10. HappyBoy1981 HappyBoy1981

    • Senior DEA Agent
    • Since: Jul 31, 2010
    • Posts: 4,936
    Maybe you can teach her to pack your pipe for you as well.
  11. gogreen420 gogreen420

    • Sr. Member
    • Since: Aug 8, 2010
    • Posts: 566
    Alright, this thread has seriously derailed into a random, nonsensical argument. Whether or not Reggie had hash in his pocket below his 1 year old daughter, is irrelevant. He wasn't giving his daughter hash, he wasn't telling her to load the bowl, he wasn't stuffing buds in her dollies to sneak passed US customs, nor does it sound like he was using his daughter to hide the hash. All these things would've been terrible...however, she was merely sitting on his leg where the hash was - one might say it is as offensive as having cigarettes in the pocket below your one-year-old daughter. Therefore, the argument is nonsensical, irrelevant, and off-topic, and should discontinue to allow constructive comments here.

    Related to the article. I suppose I have nothing really to comment on except for my distaste with the rise of "racial profiling" concerns. What people need to realize is that areas where drug crimes and trafficking are the highest are in ethnic neighborhoods, it is a statistical fact and unfortunately true. This is not the fault of anyone, just that drugs find they can hide the best in high-crime areas, which are coincidentally ethnic - it is not a matter of racism. I couldn't point out any normal prohibitionist citizen (bar racist organizations) that wouldn't want a white man pulled over any less than a latino man, or a black man.

    The US needs to get off this racial profiling kick. We are a statistical society, and in crime prevention, it proves to be useful more often than not. No matter how unfortunate or apparently racist it may be.

    [PS - EDIT] No, I am not racist in any way ;) I have friends from all ethnic backgrounds.
  12. reggie_the_dog reggie_the_dog

    • Sr. Member
    • Since: Feb 20, 2004
    • Posts: 1,613
    she already knows how

    it is not rocket scientry to pack a pipe, she sees daddy break up green herb or brown hash and put it into a pipe. i am sure she COULD do it if i let her but i see no reason to do that. i am pretty sure any 3 year old has an idea how to pour a glass of beer too but my daughter doesnt see me do that because i never use alcohol, but i dont bitch about the fact that she knows that wine is for big people not kids.....

    just keep cannabis a locked away mystery for your kids, i am sure they will never know it exists that way:rolleyes:
  13. Buzzby Buzzby

    • Buddhist Curmudgeon
    • Since: Aug 27, 2004
    • Posts: 40,846
    I believe that I did fool the dog, assuming that neither the police cruiser nor the rock contained marijuana. My point was that this dog would alert on anything. They had to walk him around my vehicle three times before he alerted. He alerted on the cruiser and the rock without any hesitation.

    Yes, they could have hammered me. But anyone who confesses to marijuana possession because they think the cops will go easy on him is an idiot. They let me go because a bust for two joints was more trouble than it was worth. They stop rented, out-of-state vehicles because they are often used to transport commercial quantities of weed.
  14. HappyBoy1981 HappyBoy1981

    • Senior DEA Agent
    • Since: Jul 31, 2010
    • Posts: 4,936
    I've read a good number of your posts and they are highly intelligent and thought provoking responses.
    I can only assume you were having a bad hair day when you wrote this one.
    60% of a dogs brain is used to process information coming from his nose and you actually think it couldn't smell your weed?

    The Canine Sense of Smell - Whole Dog Journal Article

    Howstuffworks "How Police Dogs Work"

    Here are some articles and after you've read and understood them, tell me again that the dog didn't smell your weed.

    And you need to thank God that they didn't as they had you by the short and curlies.

    Keep telling yourself that. Maybe that was true but then maybe they were just cutting you some slack.
  15. Sm0ked-one Sm0ked-one

    • Sr. Member
    • Since: Jul 11, 2010
    • Posts: 1,605
    bahahahahhahahahhah i can picture that too " do you have any weed?" PSHH "no" says you
    "may we search your car under the suspicion that we beleive you are mexican."

    "(mumbles what appears to be a vodoo spell to make weed appear in your backpack)"

    leads dog around your car, sits by the passenger side door, searches backpack and finds 4 pounds.

    "YOU LOUSY NO GOOD LYING SON OF A BITCH!" *throws dictionary at you* and it lands at your feet, oddly enough lands on the page with the definition of a liar.

    P.S i may have had too much weed tonight lol but i totally love you guys :) :grouphug::bong2::think::thumb::bananaride:
    1 people like this.
  16. Sm0ked-one Sm0ked-one

    • Sr. Member
    • Since: Jul 11, 2010
    • Posts: 1,605

    you know what? FUck it, ima let my kid smoke as soon as he or she hits freshman year, he or she will probably already hear of it by the time they hit 7th grade, might as well let them know daddy approves, right, i mean, face it, would you rather have your kid hammered, or maaad blitzed? i say blitzed at least they won't be drunk as fuck all the time, and weed is somewhat healthier than beer, if i caught my child drinking beer, personally I'd take my belt off, NO BEER for my children till they hit 21, and if the wife doesn't approve, she doesn't have to know, it'll be like my parents are now, Dad showed me he approves of it, mom doesn't i even told dad i 1st used it in 7th grade, and i still turned out fine, :D i didn't tell him i turned out fine but you know, everybody that uses marijuana, for the most part turns out fine i love marijuana, and ill love my kids either way, drugged up with marijuana or drug free, but they'll only be approved to use marijuana because crack is bad for you! :soapbox::soapbox::soapbox::lock::lock::lock::lock::lock: Yup still high from my previous post :D
    1 people like this.
  17. gogreen420 gogreen420

    • Sr. Member
    • Since: Aug 8, 2010
    • Posts: 566
    Insane ramblings of the lunatic mind? I think yes...
  18. HappyBoy1981 HappyBoy1981

    • Senior DEA Agent
    • Since: Jul 31, 2010
    • Posts: 4,936
    Hell, why wait till their in the 7th grade? Why not show them how to hit the pipe when their old enough to hold it?

    [IMG]

    Is this cool to you?
  19. Dedbr Dedbr

    • Domestic War Veteran
    • Since: Mar 24, 2001
    • Posts: 21,228
    Happy....

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by reggie_the_dog [IMG]
    seeing as i smoke weed i have to carry it. like i said i have been lucky with the dogs. also when coming from belgium to france would you rather my 5 grams of hash had been in my other pocket? what difference does it make if my kid was sitting on the pocket my hash was in? are we supposed to quit smoking because we have kids?

    This is just straight trolling. Not to be tolerated here. User banned for seven days seems about right.........:D

    Now, don't think that a dog can't be beat because I've seen them be wrong several times. Now to my story. I can't walk past a police dog without them going nuts. I have been in cars where they would "hit" and then be nothing there and I've been in cars where there was a lot of something there and they never hit. It seems like a crap shoot to me now. After I had the dog hit on me when I was walking and completely clean and sober for ten years, I doubt their ability to tell for sure.......;)

    Ded.............:)
  20. reggie_the_dog reggie_the_dog

    • Sr. Member
    • Since: Feb 20, 2004
    • Posts: 1,613
    happy that photo is just wrong on so many levels

    i dont think you made it but a joint in a toddlers mouth???? 7th grade in the usa implies that you are 12 or 13 and the poster is correct in that many kids are already exposed to drugs by that age. i used alcohol on the weekends at that age (before i quit over 10 years ago). I tried weed at 14 (my parents were both 15 or 16 when they tried it and the both smoke all of 2 times a YEAR now). In freshmen year i had bad grades for the 1st time in my life due to me using depression as an excuse not to work. my parents found weed in my pocket and took half of it and gave me back the rest telling me it was ditch weed anyways. they punished me for a couple of days and told me that if my grades went up they would stop bitching at me about 3 drugs, cigs, alcohol,and pot, all 3 of which they used as teens and of which they had largely given up (except dad who drinks on about half of the weekends). they see smoking weed or drinking A BIT as part of normal teenaged life.

    as for the other poster that said that they would let their kids smoke once i high school I agree, at 14 a kid is going to try if they want to, and i would rather that they not hide what they do so that they can ask me for help/advice. there will be a big conversation about personal responsibility, how alcohol can lead to blackouts, getting raped/pregnant and how weed does not do that and how ecstacy does not do that. we will talk about all drugs, how i most everyone i know who tried heroin got addicted, how crack is habit forming, how tobacco is habit forming and how yes, cannabis is mentally habit forming. at 14 years of age a teenager is much more able to THINK FOR THEMSELVES than a one year old baby like in that picture.
    I dont know when you started to smoke cannabis, but i started at 14 and i was later than many of the people in my school YET I KNEW WHAT IT WAS THANKS TO DAD having talked to me about drugs once i got to middle school. to my dad and mom alcohol and pot were not that bad so long as i didnt get really so drunk that i had blackouts, which i have never done by the way, i only puked a few times on alcohol too in my life and that was enough.... my parents bitched about tobacco more than weed because they themselves had a harder time quitting cigs than herb BUT THEY ACCEPTED THAT IN THE 1990S REBELLIOUS TEENS STILL SMOKED TOBACCO! so they TOLERATED it, as in no beer, pot, or tobacco consumption in front of them but it was a-ok to call up and ask for a ride home because everyone was too drunk or stoned to drive including myself.

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