Supreme Court ruling will have no effect on ADDU dog use - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Supreme Court ruling will have no effect on ADDU dog use

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

The United States Supreme Court rules police using a dog to sniff outside someone's home for evidence must have permission or a search warrant.

The justices ruled that your house and its surroundings are constitutionally-protected areas.

Albany Dougherty Drug Unit agents say the decision will not affect how they use their drug sniffing dog. ADDU officials say the Supreme Court ruling only verifies their standard operating procedure, which is always to have a search warrant or consent before their drug sniffing dog goes on someone's private property.

"Show me, show me," said ADDU Sgt. Vic Camp. "Where is it? Show me."

Coco, the Albany Dougherty Drug Unit's 8 year old narcotics dog, alerts beside this truck.

Camp said "It's only got two nickel bags of weed inside of it. And when she picked up that odor she went down there. Which is the change that she threw. And then she sat , which means something is there or has been there. And that's when she gets rewarded with the ball."

Coco has worked with ADDU for 7 years, and agents call her a tremendous asset. The Supreme Court ruling upholds their standard procedure for using Coco.

ADDU Commander Major Bill Berry said "No sir, not the way we do. We require when we carry the dog on somebody's private property, or personal property, that we are going to have a search warrant or we are going to have consent from the owner of the property."

Cars on open roads are not covered in this Supreme Court ruling like homes.

Dougherty Assistant District Attorney Norris Lewis said "It won't affect free air sniffs of cars. It would not affect free air sniffs in a public place such as a bus terminal or an airport terminal, where a canine might encounter the odor of narcotics."

Sgt Camp said "See her sniffing. She's working. Seek it out. Where is it?" One of crooks favorite ways to hide drugs is to bury them in jars in bushes outside their home. That's where the drug dog's nose is the best tool. But to use that nose drug agents have to get permission to be on private property.

Berry said "We abide by what the courts have set up. We have to have a search warrant to go on somebody's personal property or private property. It goes back to we have a right to see. We have a right to seize, and we have a right to charge."

Investigators and prosecutors are required to protect people's private property rights, whether they are accused of a crime or not. Yesterday's Supreme Court ruling gives drug agents further understanding of what they can and can't do with their drug sniffing dogs.

Coco is trained to alert to marijuana, cocaine, meth, and heroin. She has graded out to almost 95 percent accurate, and Georgia courts have accepted her and other drug sniffing dogs as being reliable scientific evidence gatherers.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the dissenting argument for Tuesday's Supreme Court ruling, saying that homeowners should not expect odors will not make it outside a house where they could be detected by dogs.

Copyright 2013 WALB.  All rights reserved.  

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