Drug Dog Trainer: Marijuana Legalization Will Literally Kill Police Drug Dogs

from the hysteria-on-top-of-hysteria dept

As marijuana is slowly, but steadily, being legalized, complications have arisen. First, the federal government still considers it illegal, although it has chosen to take a mostly-hands off approach to state-level legalization. Second, law enforcement agencies are seeing a very lucrative field of drug enforcement being slowly closed off. This isn't sitting well with agencies that rely heavily on pot busts to show their effectiveness and secure funding.

There's something else being adversely affected: the employment of a few hundred law enforcement "officers." Won't someone think of the poor drug dogs forced out onto the streets/put to death as marijuana legalization cruelly takes their reason for existence away? That's the breathless parade of horribles being offered by law enforcement officers in Illinois -- another state looking to legalize weed.

Police agencies spend thousands of dollars and months of training to teach dogs how to sniff out and alert officers to the presence of marijuana, heroin, cocaine and other drugs. If pot use becomes legal, the dogs would likely either have to be retrained — which some handlers say is impossible or impractical — or retired.

“The biggest thing for law enforcement is, you're going to have to replace all of your dogs,” said Macon County Sheriff Howard Buffett, whose private foundation paid $2.2 million in 2016 to support K-9 units in 33 counties across Illinois. “So to me, it’s a giant step forward for drug dealers, and it’s a giant step backwards for law enforcements and the residents of the community."

When prohibition is rolled back, people are displaced. The 21st Amendment was a "giant step forward for distilleries" and presumably a "giant step backwards" for law enforcement, which suddenly had one less law to enforce. But it wasn't much of a loss for residents. It was only a loss for a small sector of one arm of the government, which soon found itself in full health again as the government added drug after drug to the controlled substances list.

Then there's the usual complaining about the loss of fines for drug possession, which conveniently ignore the uptick in tax revenue once marijuana becomes a legally sellable substance. And there's the expected handwringing about the "gateway drug" -- something that's long been attributed to marijuana with almost zero evidence offered it leads to harder drug use. (It's really a Venn diagram being misread by those seeking to keep the substance controlled: most hard drug users have used marijuana. But not all marijuana users use hard drugs. It's the overlap that's interpreted as a gateway, when it's really nothing more than a reflection of marijuana's widespread use and easy availability.)

But the parade of horribles doesn't end until overwrought prohibition advocates are publicly mourning the premature deaths of drug-sniffing dogs.

Because many K-9s are trained not to be social so their work won’t be affected, Larner said a number of dogs would likely have to be euthanized.

Oh my. One might be tempted to join this man in his mourning until one realizes he's really just mourning the loss of a revenue stream. The "Larner" in this quote is Chad Larner, who runs a K-9 training academy. If Larner says they can't be retrained, maybe he's correct. Or maybe he's just not interested in making money retraining drug dogs to be useful members of non-law enforcement society. Whatever the case actually is, this isn't an unbiased statement. And it's a ridiculous scenario to present: that drug legalization will be directly responsible for the deaths of police drug dogs.

It's even more ridiculous because it's rebutted by actual law enforcement officials. The article quotes two law enforcement officials who say the most likely outcome is dogs will go on to live private lives with their handlers, much as they do now when they're retired.

What is more likely to change is the dogs' position as instant generators of probable cause. The Pantograph article notes a drug sniff that led to the search of a vehicle is being challenged in court.

Last year, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a man arrested in 2015 after officers searched his vehicle and found a meth pipe with white residue. The search took place after officers were alerted by a K-9, and prosecutors used the evidence to convict the man of two counts of drug possession.

Like all narcotic-trained K-9s, the dog could detect marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and methamphetamine, but could not communicate which of the substances it smelled. Because it wasn't known whether the dog alerted the officers to the presence of legal cannabis, the court ruled the evidence should not have been admitted; the man’s conviction was overturned.

That's going to take a lot longer to sort out. Drug dogs can only alert. (Or respond to handler cues.) They can't speak. To keep the system free of unwarranted searches, drug dog trainers are going to need to start specializing. Dogs that won't alert to marijuana odors will be needed in states where marijuana is legal or the questions dogs can't answer are going to result in more overturned convictions.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Gary (profile), 9 May 2018 @ 9:38am

    Drug Dogs

    The only legitimate use of drug dogs is to find hidden drugs on a site that has already been served with a warrant. Anything else and they are just granting probable cause for a search via the sketchy "alerts" generated.
    I'm glad that the dogs will be retired to an honest life, instead of putting innocent people in jail.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Shawn, 9 May 2018 @ 9:43am

      Re: Drug Dogs

      I agree with you. I have had "drug dog" alerting on an empty trailer in the past while going through an INS check point. Fortunately in my case it was very easy to prove that their where no drugs in the trailer by simply opening the doors and letting the agents look till they were exhausted.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 May 2018 @ 9:56am

        Re: Re: Drug Dogs

        Fortunately in my case it was very easy to prove that their where no drugs in the trailer by simply opening the doors and letting the agents look till they were exhausted.

        Fortunately they believed it was empty, rather than tearing apart the walls/wheels/etc. to look for hidden compartments. If a trailer is a rental it really might contain some drug residue, unknown to the driver.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 May 2018 @ 9:59am

        Re: Re: Drug Dogs

        the problem with guilty by "bark" is that dogs can be commanded by officers to bark on queue whether drugs were smelled or not. Not only that, even a trained dog is sensitive to the "attitude & personality" of their handlers. If the handler "believes" they are about to find drugs that dog is going to believe it too! Dogs do not have the higher reasoning necessary to overcome this problem and remain "neutral".

        Dogs are 100% biased and will never not be!

        We as citizens should have long ago made it clear the first time that SCOTUS said that barking dog was grounds for 4th Amendment violations will not be tolerated. Too bad most citizens are more than okay with trashing the constitution when it suits their politics. They are just too stupid to understand that the price tag for compromising one right is actually the cost of the rest of their rights!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Coyne Tibbets (profile), 9 May 2018 @ 11:05am

        Re: Re: Drug Dogs

        The drug dog alerted, but then couldn't lead them to the drugs? Wow. Nothing suspicious in that.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Hugo S Cunningham (profile), 9 May 2018 @ 9:53am

    Soviet dissident writer saw this problem earlier...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 9 May 2018 @ 9:56am

    What about other states?

    It's interesting to hear how so many law-enforcement types complain about how their state will go to hell if marijuana is passed. Can you blame them? Just look what happened to California and Washington state: every city has turned into a drug-fueled "Mad Max" wasteland as people seek out harder drugs. And the drug dogs in those states have turned into rabid, wild packs that go around eating babies!!!

    Wait, none of this happened. I don't remember hearing *anyone* talk about drug dogs when debating marijuana. In fact, his position completely ignores all the benefits: lower arrest rates for drug use, more tax revenue, and so on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 May 2018 @ 10:18am

      Re: What about other states?

      In fact, his position completely ignores all the benefits: lower arrest rates for drug use, more tax revenue, and so on.

      As none of those are likely to benefit him, it's hardly surprising that they are ignored. The good of the public is far outweighed by the good of the police and those that are providing them their gear after all.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ben James, 9 May 2018 @ 10:00am

    Reefer Madness

    A blatant bold-faced lie! Check Snopes.Com and search for drug dogs to find the truth that this is just another Reefer Madness ploy to try and keep cannabis illegal. No dogs will ever be euthanized because cannabis has been legalized!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 May 2018 @ 10:06am

    You're finding all kinds of stumblestones for these convictions and searches. Smile.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 9 May 2018 @ 10:09am

    Why Stop at Dogs?

    Imagine if police can't take down an 81-year-old grandmother for her one (1) pot plant used to treat her glaucoma and arthritis. Using state troopers, national guard troops, a helicopter, various trucks and other vehicles.

    If suppliers lose their customers for all that equipment, it'll collapse the economy!

    /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 9 May 2018 @ 10:24am

    Sure thing that.

    And it's a ridiculous scenario to present: that drug legalization will be directly responsible for the deaths of police drug dogs.

    Sounds like declaring vegans directly responsible for the deaths of milk cows. Or perhaps the producers of soy milk are the killers?

    At any rate: what was the retirement plan for dog officers previously? were they supposed to work until they die?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ben James, 9 May 2018 @ 10:34am

    NONSENSE!!

    Just more fake news! A quick check at snopes.com proves that this is just another Reefer Madness lie! https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/legalizing-marijuana-necessitate-euthanizing-pot-sniffing-dogs/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 May 2018 @ 11:37am

    hmm... impossible or impractical to be retrained, eh?

    To this I have a response that has been repeated time and time again: Nerd Harder.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 9 May 2018 @ 11:37am

    First things first: dogs can and are used on many situations besides drugs. Including to find other drugs.

    Second: you don't need to euthanize the dogs. They are perfectly capable of living elsewhere if the transition is conducted with proper care.

    Third: as many said, there are enormous benefits from legalization. Or are we still mourning the horses that lost their functions when Ford came in?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      hij (profile), 9 May 2018 @ 11:57am

      Re:

      You are ignoring the fourth aspect.

      Fourth, perhaps the sons' a bitches deserve to be laid off. Nobody else gets a job for life, and letting them simply work until they die without review will only make them lazy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 9 May 2018 @ 1:26pm

    Dog sniffs for drugs
    Dog finds pot
    Is that all it found?
    >Y: it's legal. Return.
    >N: busted

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2018 @ 7:47am

      Re:

      That is not how the law works, nor is it how the law should work. There are so many things wrong with your statement I'm having trouble deciding which flaw to point out first.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 9 May 2018 @ 1:29pm

    Hmmm?

    How many families would LOVE a Drug dog, to sniff out the kids Stash??
    At least find what the kids are using at the time..

    WHAT a market for parents??

    REALLY.. the only reason they bring the dogs is AFTER, they THINK they small something strange..
    And MJ is very easy to TELL, in a closed space..DONT even need a dog.
    The other chemicals/drugs. are NOT always as easy..Meth, Came be smells, but Cocaine?? Rich mans drug??

    If the cops were smart they would just walk the dogs around Neighborhoods..BUT they dont.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BentFranklin (profile), 9 May 2018 @ 1:48pm

    Yesterday: We must give this K9 officer a full police burial for being killed in the line of duty.

    https://www.today.com/pets/police-dog-buried-full-honors-after-dying-line-duty-1D80117522

    https: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2gDGQ2DaDw

    https://www.washingtontimes.com/multimedia/collection/police-do g-funeral/

    Tomorrow: We don't need these dogs anymore so we're just gonna kill them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 May 2018 @ 2:34pm

      Schrodinger's officer: A police dog both is and is not considered an officer, and which state it currently is depends on whether or not that status is beneficial to the human officers around it, and/or those that have a financial interest in the matter.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 9 May 2018 @ 2:09pm

    Freedom is Just Another Word for Ending Drug Prohibition Now

    Drug Dog Trainer: Marijuana Legalization Will Literally Kill Police Drug Dogs

    There is a simple solution:

    Retire all Police Drug Dogs immediately send them off for permanent vacation at puppy wonderland until they pass into the Great Beyond.

    Close down all training academy's for Police Drug Dogs immediately and send all new candidates off for adoption.

    The italicized/bold text below was excerpted from a report found at the website www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu titled Explosive- and drug-sniffing dogs' performance is affected by their handlers' beliefs:

    The performance of drug- and explosives-sniffing dog/handler teams is affected by human handlers’ beliefs, possibly in response to subtle, unintentional handler cues, a study by researchers at UC Davis has found.

    The study, published in the January issue of the journal Animal Cognition, found that detection-dog/handler teams erroneously “alerted,” or identified a scent, when there was no scent present more than 200 times — particularly when the handler believed that there was scent present.

    http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/welcome/features/2010-2011/02/20110223_drug_dogs.html

    The italicized/bold text below was excerpted from a report found at the website articles.chicagotribune.com titled Tribune analysis: Drug-sniffing dogs in traffic stops often wrong:

    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.

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-01-06/news/ct-met-canine-officers-20110105_1_drug-s niffing-dogs-alex-rothacker-drug-dog

    It is long past time for Americans to cast off the repressive yoke of the US governments tyrannical drug war.

    As a nation we have collectively squandered trillions of US dollars in vain attempts to interdict, incarcerate and eradicate (boondoggles one and all) the so-called scourge of human drug use (only the drugs moral busy bodies have deemed verboten of course).

    The italicized/bold text below was excerpted from a report found at the website www.foxnews.com titled AP IMPACT: After 40 years, $1 trillion, US War on Drugs has failed to meet any of its goals

    — $121 billion to arrest more than 37 million nonviolent drug offenders, about 10 million of them for possession of marijuana. Studies show that jail time tends to increase drug abuse.

    — $450 billion to lock those people up in federal prisons alone. Last year, half of all federal prisoners in the U.S. were serving sentences for drug offenses.

    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/05/13/ap-impact-years-trillion-war-drugs-failed-meet-goa ls.html

    How many more dollars squandered?

    How many more lives destroyed?

    Moral busy bodies in positions of authority arbitrarily decreeing certain substances verboten are very very dangerous.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 9 May 2018 @ 2:18pm

    When false positives justify probable cause

    Given that these drug dogs aren't actually tested to be able to do their job and their false positives are routinely used to justify probable cause (and searching without a warrant), while I have no animosity for the dogs themselves, good riddance. They should have long been given different jobs.

    Still I can't see why a drug dog couldn't be retrained as an explosives-detecting dog or a cancer-detecting dog, provided the dog at some point had actual skill detecting.

    So even setting aside the apathy earned from a long run of abusing detection dogs, I call bullshit. They'll make fine pets or fine re-trained detection dogs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 May 2018 @ 4:29pm

    ..literally kill drug dogs and did we mention what a half a million stoned cops will be like to deal with?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 May 2018 @ 9:16pm

      Re:

      Doesn't weed generally mellow people out? If so seems like that would be a marked improvement for a lot of them, other than the snack runs which might cause some traffic jams.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2018 @ 8:05am

          Re: Re: Re:

          That link is so full of poorly researched bullshit and heavily biased sources it's making me sober. It actually says that cannabis can be used as a substitute to LSD or ecstasy. Whoever wrote this has absolutely no scientific or experiential background in drug use, chemistry or effects. This is nothing but a hit piece.

          Here is a much more comprehensive and neutral source of information on cannabis: https://www.erowid.org/plants/cannabis/cannabis.shtml

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2018 @ 8:22am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Just for shits and giggles, I'm going to take the questionnaire on that link:

          "If you answer ‘Yes’ to any of the questions, you may have a problem.

          1) Has smoking pot stopped being fun?

          Yeah, that's why I vaporize now. Less harsh on the lungs.

          2) Do you ever get high alone?

          Yes, and what the fuck is wrong with that?!

          3) Is it hard for you to imagine a life without marijuana?

          Considering I use it to manage my IBS, depression and the side effects of my HIV medication, yeah, I'd say so. Anyone else on medication would probably find it hard to live without their medication, too.

          4) Do you find that your friends are determined by your marijuana use?

          Determined to do what, exactly? Is there some other use of the word "determine" that I'm missing here, because I looked through all of these and none of them properly fit with the way this question is structured:

          https://www.thefreedictionary.com/determine

          5) Do you smoke marijuana to avoid dealing with your problems?

          No, I use it to help me deal with my problems. On my worst days, I'd be physically and emotionally useless without it.

          6) Do you smoke pot to cope with your feelings?

          Yes, and what the fuck is wrong with that?! It causes euphoria. Kinda hard to feel shitty and euphoric at the same time. It's possible, but temporary -- the euphoria almost always wins.

          Weed is great for funerals.

          7) Does your marijuana use let you live in a privately defined world?

          More questions that don't make any fucking sense. There's that "define" again. Is this a British thing?

          8) Have you ever failed to keep promises you made about cutting down or controlling your dope smoking?

          No, because I don't make those kinds of promises.

          9) Has marijuana caused problems with memory, concentration, or motivation?

          Memory? No, it actually has helped bring back all kinds of wonderful, nostalgic memories I thought I'd forgotten before I started using cannabis.

          Concentration? Depends on the strain, how much I use and what symptoms I'm trying to relieve.

          Motivation? Hell no, I'm full of more ideas than ever. Ever wonder why artists use it so much? Artists work their asses off.

          10) When your stash is nearly empty, do you feel anxious or worried about how to get more?

          Nope. I've got government approved medical access, they send it to me through the mail and I regulate my dosage so I don't run out early.

          11) Do you plan your life around your marijuana use?

          Not my entire life, but maybe some of the activities in it. It's not difficult.

          12) Have friends or relatives ever complained that your pot smoking is damaging your relationship with them?”

          Only one, but he was a hypocritical moralizing douchebag that nobody likes anyway.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2018 @ 10:08pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Drugs are fucking awesome. Anyone who disagrees needs to be taken out the back and shot up with them until they see the picture. Or just shot up. Fuck it, I don't care.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            The Wanderer (profile), 11 May 2018 @ 8:26am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            4) Do you find that your friends are determined by your marijuana use?

            Determined to do what, exactly? Is there some other use of the word "determine" that I'm missing here, because I looked through all of these and none of them properly fit with the way this question is structured:

            https://www.thefreedictionary.com/determine

            I think the sense of the word being used here is that in definition 3 from the first two sets at that link, and definition 4 from the third set.

            Saying that "your friends are determined by your marijuana use" means something like "whether or not you count someone among your friends depends on what their opinion is, and/or would be, about (your) marijuana use". I.e., the question of your marijuana use is an overriding determining factor in whether or not any given person is your friend.

            7) Does your marijuana use let you live in a privately defined world?

            More questions that don't make any fucking sense. There's that "define" again. Is this a British thing?

            No, this is "define", not "determine".

            To define a world is to outline the limits of its scope. I think the sense is - coincidentally enough - roughly that in definition 3 from the first and second sets, and definition 4 from the third set, of the sets of definitions given at https://www.thefreedictionary.com/define.

            The question is about whether you enable yourself to ignore (parts of) the world that other people live in, in favor of a world whose characteristics you choose yourself, and (if so) whether it is marijuana use that helps make it possible for you to do this.

            This probably ties back to the "avoid dealing with your problems" question.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2018 @ 9:22am

    Animal cruelty is a crime, would they then arrest themselves?

    Maybe instead of murdering those poor dogs, they could use them to sniff gramma's tomatoes before raiding the place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Oblate (profile), 10 May 2018 @ 10:20am

    Because many K-9s are trained not to be social so their work won’t be affected, Larner said a number of dogs would likely have to be euthanized.

    Sounds like the trainer is the one responsible then. Who was that again?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2018 @ 10:30am

    Good Riddance I say , let dogs be dogs
    and cops be pigs rooting around in the shit .
    Another fishing expedition hopefully bites the dust .
    less they get trained rats to do their dirty work , which for them would be a better fit than ruining mans best friend to their rat like ways

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.