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Thursday, February 21, 2013
The Supreme Court ruled police do not have to extensively document a drug-sniffing dog’s expertise to justify relying on the canine to search a vehicle, according to The Washington Post.
The unanimous ruling overturned a Florida Supreme Court decision involving Aldo, a German shepherd. After the dog detected drugs in a pickup truck, a police officer searched the truck and found 200 pseudoephedrine pills and 8,000 matches, which are used to make methamphetamine. The Florida Supreme Court ruled police must compile detailed evidence of the dog’s reliability before probable cause to search the vehicle is established.
In Tuesday’s ruling, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan suggested proper training and certification of a dog, instead of how it performs in the field, could be enough. “The question — similar to every inquiry into probable cause — is whether all the facts surrounding a dog’s alert, viewed through the lens of common sense, would make a reasonably prudent person think that a search would reveal contraband or evidence of a crime,” she wrote. “A sniff is up to snuff when it meets that test. . . . Aldo’s did.”
The Supreme Court is scheduled to rule on a second dog-sniffing case, involving a chocolate Lab named Franky. Florida’s Supreme Court ruled the dog’s ability to detect marijuana growing inside a home in Miami by sniffing outside the house was unconstitutional. The state’s attorney general is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the ruling.
Franky, who recently retired after seven years with the Miami-Dade Police Department, is responsible for the seizure of more than 2.5 tons of marijuana and $4.9 million in drug-contaminated money.