Supreme Court reins in police use of drug-sniffing dogs

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With a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court clamped down on the power of police to use drug-sniffing dogs on private residences.

Using trained police dogs outside homes is legally a “search,” and that means the Fourth Amendment kicks in, justices said.

“A police officer not armed with a warrant may approach a home and knock, precisely because that is no more than any private citizen might do,” said Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, as reported by Reuters.

“But introducing a trained police dog to explore the area around the home in hopes of discovering incriminating evidence is something else,” he said, as Reuters reported. “There is no customary invitation to do that.”

The Supreme Court ruling comes by way of a 2011 Florida case. That state’s highest court wouldn’t allow evidence that was collected against a suspected drug dealer by way of a drug-sniffing chocolate Labrador retriever, Reuters said. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that decision.

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