Nevada Police Dogs Are 'Trick Ponies' That Violate Citizens' Rights: Suit

German ShepherdNot a Las Vegas police dog

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Nevada police are using their canine helpers to raid vehicles without cause, a new lawsuit claims, raising questions about the reliability of drug-sniffing dogs.The suit, filed by two Nevada highway patrolman, calls the dogs “trick ponies” that respond to officers’ cues, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Monday.

The troopers claimed the state agency that employed them had harassed them, and that they had also witnessed Las Vegas police abusing drug dogs.

Police are allowed to search your vehicle if a dog smells drugs, but  it’s unclear whether dogs are responding to the smell of drugs or officers’ cues, the suit claimed.

In some cases, law enforcement officers gave dogs treats or toys in exchange for “finding” drugs, and abused them mercilessly if they failed to do so, the suit claimed, according to the Review-Journal.

One trooper “personally witnessed a Metro handler taking his dog behind a car after missing a significant drug seizure and brutally kick his dog repeatedly,” the suit stated.

While a spokesman for Nevada’s department of public safety denied the allegations in the suit, there’s little scientific evidence to back up the reliability of drug-sniffing dogs, the Vegas-Journal reported.

In January 2011, the Chicago Tribune published a study revealing just 44 per cent of drug-dog automobile stops in suburban Chicago found actual drugs or paraphernalia. The success rate was just 27 per cent for Hispanic drivers.

“We’ve seen a national outcry about being frisked and scanned at airports,” Adam Schwartz, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Tribune at the time.

“The experience of having police take your car apart for an hour is far more invasive and frightening and humiliating,” he added.

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