OSS: K-9 Drug Searches and Racial Profiling

By: Meghan Dywer
By: Meghan Dywer

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Rockford Police are trying to protect themselves from accusations of racial profiling by keeping track of when they call in the dogs. It's because of a new law that requires police to keep data some may find questionable.

An investigation by 23 News discovered more than half the time a K-9 is used during a traffic stop they don't find drugs.

Starting January 1, police have been forced to collect more information on dog sniff searches.

Keep in mind we only have data for the first three months of this year, but so far it shows more often than not drug sniffs don't turn up any drugs.

Through the end of March, 67 people had their cars sniffed for drugs during a traffic stop. 38 were white, 25 were black, 5 were Hispanic, and one was a Native American. No drugs or paraphernalia were found in the majority of those cars. Police say it's because the K-9-s will smell drugs giving police probable cause to search the car, but most of the time the drugs are already gone.

K-9 Handler Durk Garcia said, "A lot of times there will be remnants, you know you'll find a little shake in a glove box or you know stuff like that so you know there's odor there but not really anything you can arrest anybody for."

The numbers also show blacks are more likely to get searched and Hispanics are less likely to be searched--remember this is only based on 67 total sniffs

Dogs are used in two different situations. If a K-9 handler has stopped a car he must have reasonable suspicion that there are drugs in the car to use the dog. Other times, officers will call in the dogs to sniff around the car during a regular traffic stop, but they can't search the car unless the dog "alerts".

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  • by racial profiling?? Location: rockford on Apr 13, 2012 at 10:19 AM
    majority of vehicles searched were white people... that sounds funny to me.. So you are more likely be searched if your white.. That sounds like a racial thing to me..
  • by Christopher Location: Rockford on Apr 13, 2012 at 02:29 AM
    Police dogs will "alert" whenever a handler (cop) wants them to. The whole "super- nosed cop dog" thing is just B.S. It's a convenient way to claim probable cause and justify a search. Why cops even bother with dogs is a mystery to me. Any cop will tell you that if he wants to search you or your vehicle he'll find a reason (or make one up.)
  • by Phil Location: Local on Apr 12, 2012 at 07:11 PM
    Unless percentages mean something new to the news crew more vehicles with white people were searched than black. Not the other way around as was said in the news video here. 56% white 34% black is what was posted. And who cares if 58% of search's showed no signs of drugs. Out of the other 42% of the searchs they turned up drugs. That is 28 vehicles with drugs. Not bad in my opinion. 28 drug violations out of 67 search's...does any body know of a better system. Seems to me the news is trying to point out a flaw in the police force by attempting to creat one that doesn't exist! I say get a few more dogs out there on the street they got good noses and I hear the they bite pretty hard as well.
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