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May 2005
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Drug Dogs 0 for 31

Via Jim at Vice Squad:

A middle school in Pennsylvania was placed in “lockdown” at 2PM on Tuesday:

Students were kept in their classrooms while three dogs searched the building, looking for marijuana, cocaine, crack, amphetamines, heroin and ecstasy.

The dogs were claimed to have “alerted” on 31 lockers — this school might be the very fulcrum of the global trade in illegal drugs. So the authorities padlocked the highly suspicious lockers (along with neighboring ones), then went about securing a search warrant.

No drugs were found. None.
Here’s an interesting twist. The police are upset with the school officials. Apparently this was initiated by the school and the police cooperated and conducted the sweep, but the school made it sound like the police made the decisions. The most controversial decision was made by the school. They padlocked all the suspicious lockers while getting the warrant.

In the interim, hundreds of students filed passed the padlocked lockers of their classmates as school ended.

“My concern was that when other kids see that type of thing, a stigma is attached — regardless if we find anything or not,” said Upper Allen Twp. police chief James Adams.

Now this little story, in addition to being a stinging indictment of the school administration, has another implication. Remember the drug dogs? They alerted on 31 lockers? Now go back to the horribly flawed Supreme Court decision this year in Caballes (see here, here, here for background). The court ruled that the mere fact of a dog alerting on your car was enough to justify a full blown search.
It was bad enough when I was crunching the numbers based on a 90% success rate. When you see a drug dog performance that is at best 0 for 31 (could be worse if they actually failed to alert to lockers with drugs), then you realize that essentially all that’s needed to rip apart your car on a whim with no cause at all is to just bring a dog along.

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