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Updated: 9 min 43 sec ago

Obama's Dumb, Rash, and Unilateral War

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 06:00
Don't buy the president's lame excuses for attacking ISIS without congressional approval.

Steven Salaita and the Tyranny of 'Hate Speech'

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 15:31
"Hate" is in the eye of the beholder.

Anal Probes Run Amok: Drug-Sniffing Dogs Must Be Stopped.

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 08:00

The case of Timothy Young made national headlines in 2012 when New Mexico police anally probed him in search of drugs (no contraband was found). His ordeal was the result of a false positive alert by a drug-sniffing police dog. Incredibly, the same dog was involved in a case involving another New Mexico resident that resulted in forced rectal exams that uncovered no drugs. That case ended with authorities paying a $1.6 million settlement (Young's case is still pending). 

Although presented as impartial and infallible, it turns out that such dogs are not only often poorly trained, they are frequently wrong.

Cops, explains Andy Falco, a former K-9 handler and officer for the Anaheim Police Department in California, "will often motivate their dog or cue their dog to alert when there's absolutely nothing there." A 2011 analysis by the Chicago Tribune of police departments in the greater Chicago area found that vehicle searches initiated after dogs alerted failed to turn up drugs or drug paraphernalia 56 percent of the time. Other studies find false positives as high as 74 percent and 80 percent.

Yet in 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that as long as police say the dog is trained or accurate, "a court can presume that the dog's alert provides probable cause to search" people, vehicles, and property.

"If [police] have a dog that will alert on cue," says Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum, who has written extensively on the issue, "that's a very useful tool to have to search people you have other grounds to think are suspicious." Sullum stresses that there are no uniform or reliable certification standards for training drug-sniffing dogs.

While convinced of dogs' potential usefulness, Falco agrees that police dogs are generally poorly trained and handled.

Indeed, in the wake of such appalling cases such as Young's in New Mexico, Falco worries that drug-sniffing dogs will be completely discredited. "I've seen cases where people have trained their own dogs in their backyards and then taken it to work as a drug dog. I've seen that happen," he says. "We're going to lose them because we're not using them the way we're supposed to."

About 4 minutes. Produced by Will Neff. Additional camera by Paul Detrick.

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Naomi Klein Changes Nothing With This Changes Everything

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 07:30
The laws of nature do not mandate a progressive paradise.

Steven Salaita and the Tyranny of 'Hate Speech'

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 15:30
Controversy at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

The Return of Bill Clinton

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 15:30
After eight years of Obama, will the Clinton family be a refreshing change?

Don't Put Meth Moms in Jail

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:30
Tennessee's criminalization of drug use during pregnancy is bad law and bad science.

Get Ready for Keystone Pipeline 2?

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:00
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline proposal has the potential to become the Keystone XL of the East.

How Cops Became Robbers

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 07:30
Three features of civil forfeiture law and five Supreme Court decisions make it easy for police to take money from motorists.

Obama's Unnecessary, Unpromising War

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 06:00
We don't know how to conduct a successful war against the Islamic State.

Ownership and Ideas

Sun, 09/14/2014 - 07:30
What's an idea worth?