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Justices Reject Rules for Drug-Sniffing Dogs

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In a ruling with potential implications for police searches in schools, the U.S. Supreme Court last week rejected broad certification requirements for drug-sniffing dogs.

The justices unanimously overturned a decision by Florida's highest court that called for greater evidence of a dog's performance history in the field to support giving the police probable cause to search a vehicle after the dog alerted them to the possible presence of illegal drugs.

Writing for the court in Florida v. HarrisRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader (Case No. 11-817), Justice Elena Kagan said a finding of a drug-detection dog's reliability should not depend on a checklist of evidentiary requirements.

A ruling upholding the requirement would have likely limited the use of drug-sniffing dogs by law enforcement, which has grown in recent years to include sweeps of school lockers, parking lots, and even student backpacks.

Vol. 32, Issue 22, Page 4

Published in Print: February 27, 2013, as Justices Reject Rules for Drug-Sniffing Dogs
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