Supreme Court: Drug-sniffing police dogs unconstitutional without warrant

Drug sniffing dogsWhile most of the nation focuses on The Supreme Court’s hearings on gay marriage, the high court made a different interesting ruling Tuesday:

Police cannot bring drug-sniffing police dogs onto a suspect’s property to look for evidence without first getting a warrant for a search.

It’s a decision which may limit how investigators use dogs’ sensitive noses to search out drugs, explosives and other items hidden from human sight, sound and smell, Associated Press reporter Jesse Holland writes.

It’s the second opinion this year on the use of drug-sniffing dogs by police.

The court unanimously ruled earlier in another Florida case that police don’t have to extensively document the work of drug-sniffing dogs in the field to be able to use the results of their work in court.


Highlights from the AP coverage of Tuesday’s decision:

The high court split 5-4 on the decision to uphold the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling throwing out evidence seized in the search of Joelis Jardines’ Miami-area house. That search was based on an alert by Franky the drug dog from outside the closed front door.

Justice Antonin Scalia said a person has the Fourth Amendment right to be free from the government’s gaze inside their home and in the area surrounding it, which is called the curtilage.

“The police cannot, without a warrant based on probable cause, hang around on the lawn or in the side garden, trawling for evidence and perhaps peering into the windows of the home,” Justice Antonin Scalia said for the majority.

Dissenting Justice Samuel Alito argued that it’s not trespassing when a mail carrier comes on a porch for a brief period.  And that includes “police officers who wish to gather evidence against an occupant,” Alito said.

“According to the court, however, the police officer in this case, Detective Bartelt, committed a trespass because he was accompanied during his otherwise lawful visit to the front door of the respondent’s house by his dog, Franky. Where is the authority evidencing such a rule?”

You have to ask yourself why Singh is playing?

It’s been three weeks since Vijay Singh admitted in a Sports Illustrated article to using deer-antler spray, an admission that both drew chuckles from fans and also put Singh in violation of the PGA Tour’s anti-doping policies.

Deer-antler spray includes something called IGF-1, which is on the list of banned substances on the tour’s drug policy.

Vijay Singh is playing again this week after banned substance admissions (AP photo)

Since the admission, Singh has withdrawn from the tournament in Phoenix, but played in the tour events last week in Pebble Beach and this week in Los Angeles. He has met with PGA Tour commission Tim Finchem, but has refused to discuss the matter with the media.

So what you have to ask yourself at this point is, why is Singh still playing? This is not an innocent until proven guilty case. Singh has admitted using the stuff, though he has said he didn’t know there was a banned substance involved. But he is still in violation of the rules. It’s not that I have anything against Singh, but when a guy admits to breaking the rules, consciously or not, three weeks seems like a long time before the tour does something.

The discipline for a player is not specific in such cases. It could range from fines to a suspension of up to a year. But so far, there is no word of any discipline against Singh, and Singh has continued to play.

Singh will not be in the field of the Accenture Match Play Championship next week in Arizona. So that mean his next chance to play would be at the Honda Classic, the kickoff event to the Florida swing.

If Singh is still playing when the Honda event comes around, a month after Singh’s admission, it will say that the tour is either confused as to what to do to a former world No. 1 player who admits to unconscious doping, or that the tour is just going to soft sell the entire incident. Either way, with every day that goes by with no announced discipline for Singh, the tour’s anti-drug policy takes another hit.



1 out of 5 arrested is someone on parole or probation, California study finds

Desert Sun file photo

One out of every five people arrested is on parole or probation — a lower number than law enforcement expected — according to a newly published study.

Researchers examined to what extent people on parole or probation contribute to crime (as measured by arrests).

They used data from Los Angeles, Redlands, Sacramento and San Francisco police over more than three years, ending in June 2011.

The Council of State Governments Justice Center, a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization based in Kentucky, found:

  • The majority of adult felony and misdemeanor arrests (77%) involved people who were not under supervision.
  • When looking only at drug violations, one out of every three people arrested was on probation or parole.
  • Total arrests fell by 18 percent. Meanwhile, the number parolees arrested fell 61 percent, and people on probation declined 26 percent.

The data shows there’s a “small fraction” of parolees who are “contributing disproportionately to drug-related crime,” Redlands Police Chief Mark Garcia said this week in a news statement about the study.

As a whole, though, Sacramento Police Chief Rick Braziel said:

“Our assumption has been that people under probation and parole were driving our arrest activity, but the data suggests otherwise,” he said.

“This new information opens up opportunities for law enforcement agencies, which are grappling with huge budget cuts, to work with partners in probation and parole to be more efficient and targeted in our prevention, intervention, and enforcement efforts.”

The study was paid for by the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Fund for Nonviolence and the Rosenberg Foundation.