I was told that I didn’t adequately explain myself yesterday when talking about canine searches.  So the dogs aren’t always right?  Maybe they’re right 10% of the time.  That’s 10% of the time that they could smell drugs or bombs when the humans couldn’t right?  Let the hounds work!

It’s not that simple.

You’ve got a fourth amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures.  That means that a cop can’t search your car just because he wants to, with no real basis whatsoever.  A cop can search your car if a canine “indicates” there is contraband, however.  In that case the officer doesn’t need a warrant, and the warrantless search is considered “reasonable.”

What happens when the dog “indicates” where it thinks the human thinks drugs are located more often than where it objectively smells contraband?  Well, in that case, it’s not really “indicating” there’s contraband- it’s just telling the human handler that it thinks the human handler should search where the human handler already wanted to search (but legally couldn’t unless the dog “indicates.”)

That’s just a long way of saying that the dog might just be a tool to legitimize an officer’s search of someplace he wants to search, but still may not have probable cause to do so.  Seems to me there’s still a fourth amendment problem.