A Louisville Courier-Journal investigation has found that is not unusual for police to smell drugs that cops then can’t find in a search, the paper reports. In nearly half of the 139 traffic stops since 2017 in which drug dogs indicated the presence of narcotics inside a vehicle, none were found, according to a database of LMPD canine searches obtained under the Kentucky Open Records Act.
The department said that doesn’t mean the dogs were wrong; narratives of the stops included in a police database show that sometimes drivers admitted they had smoked marijuana earlier or that it had been in the car. In other words, dogs accurately smelled the scent of pot, even if it no longer was there. But experts on policing and canines, including Dr. Lawrence Myers, an Auburn University professor of veterinary medicine who has studied detector dogs, said the data shows that “a lot of people are having their cars searched who shouldn’t, and that they are forced … to endure invasive searches that can be frightening and humiliating.”