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View Diary: Supreme Court likes dogs who are good at meth (235 comments)

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  •  now we're both just speculating (5+ / 0-)

    i have enough experience with lying cops to not automatically believe them.

    what doesn't make sense to me is that a visible open container should have been as much probable cause as they needed.

    •  From the FL Supreme Court decision (5+ / 0-)
      When Officer Wheetley asked for consent to search the truck, Harris refused. Officer Wheetley then deployed Aldo. Upon conducting a "free air sniff of the exterior of the truck, Aldo alerted to the door handle of the driver's side.

      Underneath the driver's seat, Officer Wheetley discovered over 200 pseudoephedrine pills in a plastic bag wrapped in a shirt. On the passenger's side, Officer Wheetley discovered eight boxes of matches containing a total of 8000 matches. Officer Wheetley then placed Harris under arrest. A subsequent search of a toolbox on the passenger side revealed muriatic acid. Officer Wheetley testified that these chemicals are precursors of methamphetamine. After being read his Miranda rights, Harris stated that he had been cooking meth for about one year and most recently cooked it at his home in Blountstown two weeks prior to the stop. Harris also admitted to being addicted to meth and needing it at least every few days.

      And from the suppression hearing:
      Officer Wheetley: The residual odor is there. That's what caused my dog to show the response. So if it's there, my dog responded to the odor, so which — apparently the odor was there.

      Defense Counsel: But you have no way of establishing in this case that this is not just a false alert by your dog?

      Officer Wheetley: Ma'am, we found the precursors to methamphetamine, all the listed chemicals were in the truck. He admitted to not being able to go more than two days without using. I think that pretty much places the odor on the door handle.

      Defense Counsel: The dog, however, did not alert to any of the things he has been trained to alert to as far as your knowledge?

      Officer Wheetley: Ma'am, he was trained to alert to the odor of narcotics, which he alerted to the odor of narcotics on the door handle.

      •  to me this just drives home (9+ / 0-)

        how invasive this type of search actually is.
        now anybody who's done drugs within the last several days has no right to privacy whatsoever?

        •  It'd take a lot of drugs (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Eyesbright, mmacdDE

          Extremely heavy pot smokers, for example, pass the sniff test if they're not carrying at the time. I've seen it happen at the border patrol checkpoints multiple times while in the car with them. Heck, I've been through that in a car that regularly has people smoking pot inside of it, and the dogs don't alert.

          So for the dog to alert on this guy's door handle, he must be sweating enough meth to get any normal person high.

          You need a license to drive, a license to run a business, but any idiot can buy a gun.

          by Hannibal on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 05:54:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  someone who smokes (0+ / 0-)

            'at least every two days' does not strike me as the heavy smoker you are describing.

            it is more likely the dogs you refer to were trained for explosives and drugs that are more likely to be smuggled and more 'sexy' for them to catch like coke or heroin.

            •  No one who smokes meth does so 'every 2 days' (0+ / 0-)

              The drug is incompatible with that kind of moderation. Don't ask how I know. The suspect is surely understating, for various potential reasons. Meth is not like pot; you don't smoke it casually. Not that I'm making an empirical statement that would hold up in court, but I have plenty legitimate reason to believe the guy probably wreaked of meth as far as the dog was concerned.

              Take the description of the guy's behavior: nervous, unable to sit still, shaking, breathing rapidly. He was obviously high on meth when he was pulled over. He may have just smoked shortly before. It may sound like the description of someone who is nervous because he's hiding something, but for anyone who has seen it up close and personal it is obviously the description of someone who is high on meth.

              •  maybe he was, maybe he wasn't (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                progressivevoice, tommymet

                we weren't there, we can't know for sure. either way, the precedent of a dog smelling the residue of a drug on a door handle worries me.

                gave your crackhead uncle a ride recently? picked up a hitch-hiker? son smokes pot? meth head leaned against your car? bought your car in a police auction or from another shady character? there's a lot of reasons there might be a trace of drugs somewhere.

              •  Most addicts understate their use. (0+ / 0-)

                You're spot on.

                The wisdom of my forebears ... Two wise people will never agree. Man begins in dust and ends in dust — meanwhile it's good to drink some vodka. A man studies until he's seventy and dies a fool. Some of my best friends are Catholics, really.

                by Not A Bot on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 07:56:01 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  What dogs are not are automatons (0+ / 0-)

              performing a job. They are keyed into their handler and can very easily be made to give a false positive reaction on a verbal or physical cue to please the handler. Smelling Meth on a door handle sounds like a manufactured pretext with the dog as justification. Complete Bull shit.

        •  You honestly can smell extreme methheads and cooks (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Hannibal, geekydee

          citation: Inhabitant of the Midwest.

      •  The officer's argument strikes me as an (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tommymet

        after-the-fact justification.

        "We know the dog smelled meth because we found the makings of meth. We didn't find meth, which is what the dog is trained for, but the fact that we found the makings proves he smelled it on the door handle. We didn't do an analysis of the door handle to prove there was traces of meth on it for the dog to smell, though. No need, because finding the ingredients is proof enough that the dog smelled it."

        Circular logic.

        I don't see any hard evidence that the cops didn't just spot a tweaker, called their dog over, claimed the dog alerted, and got their search.

        But hey - now it's supported by the Supreme Court!

    •  Absolutely, many cops lie (0+ / 0-)

      But what are appeals courts, including SCOTUS, supposed to do about that? Ignore any testimony from law enforcement officials?

      •  all i'm saying is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron, progressivevoice

        a dog could easily be trained to alert to basically anything.

        so yeah, it would be nice if there were some way to actually test if a police dog that is used as evidence against you is a reliable source of information or not.

        i'm not sure what that is but there are better minds than mine out there.

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