Supply the Hand that Feeds: Narcotic Detection Dogs and the Fourth Amendment
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Police canines are highly valued by law enforcement agencies as they are capable of detecting the faintest scent of contraband. The Supreme Court has established that a canine sniff is not a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and as long as a canine has been formally trained by any “bona fide” organization, their positive alert provides law enforcement officials with the requisite probable cause to institute warrantless and invasive searches of automobiles. The Supreme Court’s flawed approach was best summed up by Justice Souter when he stated, “The infallible dog, however, is a creature of legal fiction.” The Supreme Court’s approach to canine sniffs has overlooked underwhelming canine accuracy rates, as well as the lack of federal or state standards imposed on training facilities. These underlying concerns surrounding canine sniffs have been unheeded by the Supreme Court, and thus, an individual’s Fourth Amendment protections have become further diluted. This Note addresses specific concerns of canine training and accuracy, examines the problematic lack of federal or state standards imposed on facilities, examines the most recent Supreme Court case concerning canine sniffs, and concludes by proposing training standards modeled after Illinois practices.