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(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.
A version of this article appeared in the February 27, 2013 edition of Education Week as Justices Reject Rules for Drug-Sniffing Dogs