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Karen B. London
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There’s A Dog at School Full Time
His job is drug enforcement
Finding drugs requires a good nose

There’s a new staff member at school, and he works cheap! Raidin is a five-year-old Belgian Malinois and he was taught to detect four basic smells at Kingman High School: marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Like many dogs, his training is about finding specific substances rather than apprehending and subduing suspects. His searches are usually in buildings, vehicles and parking lots, and never on students.

 
If Raidin signals that he smells drugs on a student, he has to be pulled away, because to search a student would violate that student’s Fourth Amendment Rights regarding unreasonable search and seizure. Although Raidin’s detection skills have led authorities at the school to find marijuana in backpacks, in a locker and in a classroom, the hope is that Raidin’s presence will serve as a deterrent for students who would otherwise bring drugs to school.
 
Raidin’s reward for working is play. Like many members of his breed, he has a high play drive, and he has been taught to expect a game of catch when his handler cues him that it’s time to work because the game always follows the work session.
 
 
 

 

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Rex | November 30 2009 |

"if he signals he smells drugs on a student, he has to be pulled away, because to search a student would violate that student's Fourth Amendment Rights..." But isn't the damage done when the dog signals and casts doubt on the student?

Submitted by Karen London | November 30 2009 |

The legal aspects of this situation are unclear to me as well and I don't know what precedent there is for protection of the students' Fourth Amendment rights. I'm not sure why searching a locker, car, or backpack based on a drug sniffing dog's indication of a find in those places doesn't constitute unreasonable search and seizure but searching the students themselves does. I'd love to hear from people with legal expertise for their analysis of the situation

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