Las Vegas police will end a long-standing dog-training practice of placing narcotics inside the vehicles of law-abiding motorists, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. For nearly 13 years, police had placed confiscated narcotics in people’s vehicles to test their dogs’ ability to sniff out hidden drugs. The training exercise is common in police agencies nationwide. A dog is often dispatched to a traffic stop if an officer suspects there are narcotics in a vehicle.
In response to a recent incident in which a man was incorrectly charged with a crime, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada said the training procedure is inappropriate. Sheriff Bill Young said it will be temporarily terminated. Canine officers insist the training is essential. They say stopping it could put the department at risk if ill-equipped dogs alert on scents other than narcotics. The exercise came to light after a canine officer forgot to retrieve cocaine from the vehicle of a man who was later charged with drug possession after other investigators found the forgotten drugs in his car. Said an ACLU attorney: “It’s a bad practice. It should cease immediately. A good rule of thumb is that police should not put drugs in the cars or other property of civilians. There is a potential for all kinds of problems, and it is unnecessary.”