Canine Policing: Officer’s Best Friend
Man’s best friend for the longest time has been the Canis familiaris or domesticated dog. Canine’s get their name from the four fang-like teeth, which depending on the breed can deliver a power bite. The canine has been used for many years, mainly for hunting and gathering, protection and affectionate companionship. However law enforcement seen it differently because many agencies use canines ( K-9 as many termed it) for bomb detection, drug detection, police patrol, and tracking as well as attack dogs. Many federal law enforcement agencies like the DEA, ATF, FBI, as well as many state, local, county, and Sheriff Departments of Policing use some type of K-9 or has some type of K-9 unit within their department.
K-9’s raise many concerns for the citizens, the trainers and even the breeders. When selecting a police dog, many agencies will order through breeder/trainer programs like worldwide canine, website found here!!! , who purchase dogs from European breeders to ensure they are heavily pure bread. The dogs once trained can typically be purchased between 5,000-7,500 dollars. Many of which return that money through drug forfeiture money over time by accurately sniffing/stopping drug couriers. These mammals are used as a crime deterrence toward the community through programs like D.A.R.E (which we know doesn’t deter) and through educational seminars. However during crime, and if the dog is released, we find this highly trained animal on the loose chasing a person through a local community. Now I support this unit of the Police, but what happens if this dog were to falsely attack someone or bite at someone who happened to be in the general vicinity of the chase? A by stander being bitten on accident is a gigantic problem for policing.
Click here to watch Buffalo Grove, Illinois wheeling canine attacks
Canines can only be optimal if they are properly trained, and when that training continues but also changes over the course of the K-9’s service. The U.S Supreme Court recognized canine policing as a warrantless search tool because the canine can readily walk the exterior of a vehicle, and if it alerts toward any location within the vehicle, that would constitute as the officers probable cause which leads to a full blown search of the vehicle. This current canine policing rational was determined in Illinois v. Caballes, 2005 which was at first glance a fourth amendment case, but determined how an officer can utilize a canine in a routine traffic stop, as long as that stop was legitimate and did not prolong the duration of the stop. What happens though when a canine’s alert was false or wrong? The Supreme Court Justices recognized those as false positives or erroneous alerts. Many argued that in prior cases canine can be very inaccurate where they can produce negative or false positives between 7% and 38% of the time for particular dogs in service. My question then is do these dogs make a reliable and effective means of stopping or deterring certain crimes, based on the type of training they use? Or do they just take more time away from the handling officer, because according to Worldwide Canine, an officer after the initial training is done should commit about 35-40 hours per week of training.
Canine policing is effective, and a very interesting area of policing. In our modern time, bombings and other explosive devices have been used to harm other people, but is it ethical to allow another creature to walk in and detect the bomb? If it was to explode and harm or kill the canine would that be ok to the general public? The agency using the dog? My issue here is how ethical is it to jeopardize a canine’s life, I mean I understand it is better to lose a canine life compared to a human life, but is there no better alternative say use robotics?
The use of canines have generated many issues and also gave many ideas for future policing, so I ask what is your take on canine policing? Is it ethical to use dogs to hunt man? Should the dogs be readily deployed to find a ready to explode bomb? How would one agency handle a false positive? There are a ton of issues associated with police dogs, some raise ethical issues and some are just fun to learn about.
What’s your take on K-9 Policing? wicked awesome attack dog video
Information based on worldwidepolicing.com
Case law review of Illinois v. Caballes, 2005