The current Supreme Court approach to the nuances involved in drug detection dogs is fundamentally flawed. The Supreme Court has allowed, on the evidentiary front, the introduction of unscientific evidence into law enforcement practices, which allows officers to disregard traditional Fourth Amendment protections. As Justice Souter stated in Illinois v. Cabellas, “[T]he sniff alert does not necessarily signal hidden contraband, and opening the container or enclosed space whose emanations the dog has sensed will not necessarily reveal contraband or any other evidence of crime.”
The Courts classification of drug detection dogs in Caballes as sui generis is unsubstantiated. The Court in Caballes also determined that a dog sniff alone was sufficient to establish probable cause for a physical search inside a vehicle. The Court should revise this treatment and consider alternative proposals. Additionally the Court’s reliance in Florida v. Harris on blanket terms such as “bona fide organization” and “training program” illustrates the Justices’ incomprehension of the complexities involved in such a process. Finally, the Court in Harris inappropriately dismissed the very real financial incentive law enforcement has to maintain detection dogs that over-alert.
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