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Public School K9 Narcotic Sniffs!

The following information has been obtained from various legal sources, including the web site of Terry Fleck. If any doubt, check with your local law director and/or prosecutor. %% School Narcotic Sniffs: %% Basics: %% 1.) A canine sniff of property is not a search under the Fourth Amendment. %% 2.) There does not need to be prior reasonable suspicion prior to the canine sniff. %% 3.) A positive alert from a trained Narcotics Detector Dog gives reasonable suspicion to the presence of narcotics. This reaction gives the handler probable cause for a warrant. %% 4.) School officials need reasonable suspicion to search a student or their property. A canine alert is that reasonable suspicion. %% 5.) School officials do not need a warrant to conduct the search. %% %% Courts are divided about the reasonableness of canine student searches, however two out of three state that a canine sniff of a person is a search. A canine sniff of a student requires reasonable suspicion. Only a ?passive alert? dog should be used. (Note: The majority of law enforcement agencies do not use K9?s to sniff/search people for narcotic detection in any circumstance.) %% %% A) New Jersey v T.L.O. (469 U.S. 325 (1985) U. S. Supreme Court. %% Even though this is not a canine case, the United States Supreme Court held that: 1. School searches fall under the Fourth Amendment?s reasonableness standard. 2. School officials do not need a warrant to search a student or their property. 3. School officials do not need probable cause to search; the legality of a search of a student should depend simply on the reasonableness, under all the circumstances of the search (reasonable suspicion). %% %% B) United States v Place (462 U.S. 696 (1983) U. S. Supreme Court. %% Exposing a person?s property, which is located in a public place, to the sniff of a trained narcotics detecting dog is not a search under the Fourth Amendment. %% %% C) United States v Sokolow (490 U.S. 1 (1988) U. S. Supreme Court. %% A sniff from a Narcotic Detector Dog and a positive alert provides probable cause to obtain a search warrant for property. %% %% D) United States v Solis (536 F. 2d 880 (1976) Ninth Circuit. %% 1. Evidence acquired by odor so detected may furnish evidence of probable cause. 2. Drug Agent?s use of a Narcotic Detector Dog to detect narcotics odor and then obtain search warrant, was not a search under the Fourth Amendment. %% %% E) United States v Maldonado-Espinosa (968 F. 2d 101 (1992) First Circuit. %% A drug-sniffing dog?s positive alert to a person?s property provided probable cause for the issuance of a search warrant. %% %% F) Doe v Renfrow (631 F. 2d 91 (1980) Seventh Circuit. %% 1. Detention of student for 1-1/2 hours was not an unreasonable seizure. 2. Entry by school officials and uniformed police officers into each classroom with the intent to locate drugs was not a search. 3. Walking up aisles and sniffing by a narcotics detector dog did not violate students? right. 4. Upon a canine alert, there was no violation of student?s rights by ordering her to empty pockets onto her desk. 5. Nude search of student based solely upon a canine alert after she emptied her pockets was unreasonable. %% %% G) Zamora v Pomeroy (639 F. 2d 662 (1981) Tenth Circuit. %% 1. A warrantless search of school lockers conducted by trained police dogs was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, even when no reasonable suspicion existed. 2. Where school had assumed joint control of student?s locker and where school authorities conducted warrantless search of lockers after trained police dogs indicated the presence of drugs, there was no search under the Fourth Amendment. %% %% H) Horton v Goose Creek Independent School District (690 F. 2d 470 (1982) Fifth Circuit. %% 1. Police dogs? sniffing of student lockers in public hallways and automobiles parked on public parking lots did not constitute a search. 2. Dogs? sniffing of students? persons could not be justified without reasonable cause. 3. Canine searches of students? persons could not be justified without reasonable cause. 4. The standard of reasonable cause for school officials is less stringent than that applicable to law enforcement, but requires more than good faith. 5. If, as a result of canine sniff searches of students? cars and lockers, school had reasonable cause to suspect presence of contraband, no warrant is required to search. 6. Minimal harassment arising from the mere presence of dogs on campus was not unreasonable. %% %% I) Hearn v Board of Public Education (191 F. 3d 1329 (1999) Eleventh Circuit. %% A search of a teacher?s automobile resulting from a random parking lot sweep by officers, where a narcotics dog alerted to the teacher?s automobile gave probable cause to enter and search the interior. %% This alert also gave reasonable suspicion of possible drug use by teacher, so that termination of teacher for refusing to take a drug test after discovery of marijuana in her vehicle was reasonable. %% %% J) John F. Dengg v State of Ohio (Case No. 97-P-0113) (132 Ohio App. 3d 360; 724 N.E.2d 1255; 1999 Ohio App. LEXIS 851). %% Police K9?s were requested by Streetsboro, Ohio, school officials to conduct a search for illicit contraband at Streetsboro High School, a public high school, and were deployed to the high school parking lots as part of that exercise. %% The police had probable cause to search the automobile driven by the appellee to school because a police K9 alerted it handler to the presence of drug odor when it sniffed the exterior of the appellee?s vehicle. %% Under the rule of law pronounced in the cases of Place, Waldroup, Palicki, French and Riley, the use of a drug sniffing dog to detect the presence of the odor of contraband by sniffing the exterior of an object is not a ?search? within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. %% Once the K9 alerted to the odor of drugs, the police had probable cause to conduct a search of appellee?s automobile. Finally, pursuant to the holding in Ross, once the police officers had acquired the requisite of probable cause, they could conduct a warrantless search of appellee?s vehicle under the ?automobile exception?. %% %% J) B.C. v Plumas Unified School District (192 F. 3d 1260 (1999) Ninth Circuit. %% 1. The close proximity sniffing of the person is offensive whether the sniffer be canine or human. Because the dog sniff infringed on a person?s reasonable expectation of privacy, we hold that it constitutes a search. 2. A random and suspicionless dog sniff search of a person is unreasonable. %% %% Suggested flow chart of school searches of property: %% 1.) School official requests random K-9 sniff of property. %% 2.) Law enforcement conducts K-9 sniff. %% 3.) Positive alert from K-9. %% 4.) Established probable cause for the officer and reasonable suspicion for the school official. %% 5.) School official conducts a warrantless search. %% 6.) The student suspect is dealt with administratively (also dependant upon what and how much contraband is found) by the school official and/or the school official requests criminal prosecution through law enforcement. %% %% Closing: It is highly recommended to conduct an assembly at each school where K9 teams will be used in order to introduce and educate the students, parents (if school permits them to attend) and faculty about law enforcement K9 teams and the school system?s proactive approach to a problem found in all schools. The assembly would only need to be approximately 45 minutes, depending on the size of the audience and if the school would permit questions from the student body during the assembly. We actually encourage questions to us. We would have several law enforcement K9 teams present for the assembly to give a quick demonstration as to how the K9 teams work. %% %% Remember: %% 1.) K9?s are not used to search people/students. Law Enforcement does not condone this. %% 2.) K9?s are not brought in or used for Intimidation. %% 3.) K9?s are not a total answer or solution for drug problems. %% 4.) K9?s are one part of the multifaceted answer and are in fact proactive when used in schools in a professional and positive manner on a regular basis in a non disruptive manner. %% 5.) Students have a ?right? to attend and learn in a safe, drug free school. %% 6.) Schools are not and cannot be a safe haven for drug users and dealers. %% Respectfully, Jim Watson