a question for the LE posters here, or others....... - Page 1

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by Rik on 27 April 2021 - 10:04

sitting around watching too many you tubes, but seeing LE dogs being called out to do a search around a car (which if the dog alerts, the LE can search the car without a warrant), some officers will tap on the side of the car and the dog will alert.

just about anybody can teach a dog to jump/alert on a counter top, car, etc. in probably 15 mins or less from a tap que, so I guess it's kind of a troubling issue for me. are these just poorly trained dogs/officers or is it standard training?


Hired Dog

by Hired Dog on 27 April 2021 - 11:04

Rik, this is a very touchy subject that can get long, but, I will give you the reader's digest version. During training, dogs and handlers are taught to do a systematic search of whatever. During that search, you will occasionally see the handler walk backwards and point/tap at the surface of what he wants searched.
A properly motivated and trained dog will ignore everything and look for the source of the odor, despite the handler tapping/pointing at things.

Here is the first problem...the handler stops walking suddenly and the dog stops and sometimes comes to a sit, if that is the final trained response, that gives the handler PC to search the car.
Other times, the dog will look at the handler and being a master body language reader will interpret the handler's action as a cue to alert.

All of these actions are BS...a properly trained dog will alert on the odor/s that it is trained on and will do it with or without the handler present, following or guiding the dog around.
The other problem with that is that an alert is an interpretation between dog and handler...that is it. If I tell you that my dog scratching his ass is an alert, it is. If I tell you that my dog yawning is an alert, that is it.
Anyway, that is the short answer and one of the reasons why I dont trust someone showing me a dog's potential hunt drive on video, I need to see it live.

by GSCat on 27 April 2021 - 21:04

The handler is supposed to keep records of the dog's training, apprehensions, searches, hits, false alerts, and misses.

If a dog's accuracy fall below specified standards, which it will if the records are kept properly, but the handler is not running the K9 properly, the K9 and handler team is supposed to be retrained/remediated. Of course a K9 handler that'll cheat on the search and alert will likely falsify paperwork to cover his/her tracks.

Of all the K9 handlers I've ever known, I've never known one to falsify the K9 paperwork. Not to say there were never mistakes, since human beings.

The supervisor, whether a senior K9 handler, kennelmaster, shift Sergeant, Lieutenant, etc., is supposed to supervise/check/verify.

The records are subject to subpoena and the handler can be required to swear to the accuracy/integrity under oath in court, as well as explain the paperwork, training, search/apprehension/other incident-related activities/actions, etc. If the handler lies, it's perjury.

by ValK on 27 April 2021 - 23:04

from my past and how we were taught - the dog must perform search work on the vocal command.
in case of remote location of the object, vocal command should be supplied with hand gesture, pointing in desirable search direction.
i don't know about LE training standards, maybe it's differ.

by GSCat on 27 April 2021 - 23:04

Depends on the application. Sometimes silent/nonverbal command is required due to the tactical situation. I train my dogs using voice and hand commands, so certain things I can/could tell him/her/them three or four different ways. If running two dogs, it's necessary sometimes to give a command to one that you don't want the other to follow, so different commands for the same thing. At other times, it's necessary/desired that both dogs do something, so another command(s) that both dogs know and obey is needed. Etc.

LE training depends on the trainer, handler, dog, department, mission, tasks, etc., etc., etc.


by Rik on 28 April 2021 - 08:04

thanks for the answers. It was just something that as a non LE, I wondered about.

seems there are quite a few levels of verification required, which also as a non LE, didn't know about or consider.


by Rik on 28 April 2021 - 19:04

cat, I especially want to thank you for taking the time to list so detailed an explanation. having served on jury duty in the past, I'm quite sure the prosecutor would have presented all this from the get-go. If not, I would have asked the same question.


by astrovan2487 on 28 April 2021 - 20:04

The police I train with are very particular about vehicle searches, never touch the vehicle during a search, only allowed two passes for each car, consistent speed, loose leash. They do this specifically so that they won't be accused of cueing the dog. It's even a thing where some (not the ones I train with) swear that you need to keep moving around no matter what or it will cue the dog. The result is a pretty goofy looking search where the handler may stop but continues walking in place.

I completely understand why they do it so particularly, but I also agree with HiredDog, if the dog is obedient to odor and understands the job none of the little things the handler does should matter. In my opinion if the dog alerts from you standing still, changing pace, or tapping on something then you've really screwed up in the training somewhere.

My vehicle searches are pretty sloppy in comparison, ideally off leash where I just release the dog, stand back and watch, the only time I intervene is to reward or direct to an area I think the dog may have missed. I do alot of the things people say will cause the dog to false alert, stand still, inconsistent speed, tap on things, and don't have issues with false alerts. But I dont have to worry about court cases, probable cause, or following department policy. Just like any other dog training different things work for different people, different dogs, different situations.

Hired Dog

by Hired Dog on 29 April 2021 - 08:04

The deployment of the dog, if the selection and training of it were sound, is one of the biggest issues and one of the areas where the handler get nailed in court.
Areas of deployment also matter...a friend of mine is currently working a drug dog in the county jail system and no one would ever question it if his dog found drugs in a jail cell, ever...
Run that same dog on the street though and the situation changes completely. Training methods, rewards, real VS not real training aids used, qualities, quantities, storage, cross contamination, handling of training aids, record keeping, real finds VS false alerts and the list goes on and on will make a huge difference in the outcome.

You have no idea how many times I have watched a handler pass the leash from his left to his right hand as the dog goes around him because he/she is too lazy to make that 360 turn with the dog and they missed that head snap on the dog while they yanked it back around...
I dont reward finds that I have not placed or someone I know has placed, too easy for a dog to start to lie. I also find it strange that someone is willing to bounce a ball off a car on the side of the highway where the suspect vehicle was pulled over.
I train with "known" hides, most people laugh when I tell them...my philosophy is that my dog will either find the target odor or he wont, end of...he works off leash most of the time and on a loose leash in front of me hunting when he is on leash. It allows me to have a cleaner final trained response because I know where the odor is and what the dog's response should be because I trained it.
If he fudges it and takes his time or does anything else, he will wait for ever to get his reward as opposed to a quick final alert and the toy comes out in 1 second.

I have to give it to those guys that are running dogs on the street and deal with going to court to defend their dog's alerts and having to pedantically explain over and over why and how, not something I could do in today's legal climate. Oh, I a speaking of drug detection dogs here, not explosives detection.

by GSCat on 30 April 2021 - 03:04

Rik -

Usually the defense attorney will be the one that brings out the minutiae of K9 team-related stuff on cross of the handler in an effort to get the evidence/search thrown out. Some of them are brutal, so the handler better have all his/her ducks in a row and be well prepared for the specific case.

4th Amendment is the big thing. Did the K9 team have a legally/Constitutionally-acceptable reason for being where they were and doing what they did? Was the team properly trained, and the training updated, and all training and operational activities properly documented so the team was a lawful implement of law enforcement? Was use of the dog in accordance with department use-of-force directives and standard operating procedures (SOP), local ordinances, State and Federal laws, etc. Etc., etc., etc. Was use of the dog necessary or excessive, force, etc.? Etc., etc., etc. And all the stuff @Hired Dog wrote.

Add in stuff beyond the K9 handler's control. Example: a K9 search can be thrown out through no fault of the K9 team. Example: if (all) the reason(s) another officer pulled over a vehicle is/are thrown out, then everything after that is disallowed because there is no legal reason for the vehicle to have been pulled over and no reason for the officers, including the K9 team, to be there/do anything. A defense attorney might ask if any of a K9 team's searches have ever been later disallowed. The handler better know how many times and why. Documentation of everything, and bring all the documentation to court (depending on jurisdiction/specific court rules, and specific case requirements).

K9-specific legal issues relating to odor detection are the same, regardless of odor. There are technical and safety issues/differences related to the specific items/substances involved in odor detection (drugs vs. explosives vs. accelerants vs. cadavers vs. etc., etc., etc.), but the overall legal/Constitutional issues/points of K9 odor detection are the same.


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