Drug Dogs More Likely To ‘False Report’ When Their Handlers Believe Contraband Is Present
February 10, 2011 – Sacramento, CA, USA
Sacramento, CA: The performance of drug-sniffing dogs is significantly influenced by whether or not their handlers believe illicit substances are present, according to a study published in the January issue of the journal Animal Cognition.
Investigators at the University of California at Davis assessed the accuracy of 18 drug and/or explosive detection dog/handler teams in a four-room church. No drugs or target scents were present in any of the rooms, but handlers were falsely told that contraband was present in two of the rooms, each marked by a piece of red construction paper.
Authors reported 225 incorrect responses overall, but found that dogs were more likely to provide false alerts in rooms where their handlers believed that illicit substances were present.
“Handlers‘ beliefs that scent was present potentiated handler identification of detection dog alerts,” investigators concluded. “This confirms that handler beliefs affect outcomes of scent detection dog deployments.”
The study’s authors speculated that the high rate of false alerts is because the dogs respond to subtle visual cues from their handlers.
“Dogs are exceptionally keen at interpreting subtle cues, so handlers need to be cognizant of that to optimize the overall team performance,” co-author Anita Oberbauer stated in a press release.
In 2005, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Illinois v. Caballes that an alert from a police dog during a traffic stop provides a constitutional basis for law enforcement to search the interior of the vehicle.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director or Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel, at: (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, “Handler beliefs affect scent detection dog outcomes,” is available online at:http://www.springerlink.com/content/j477277481125291/.
updated: Feb 10, 2011
Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director
From Reuters News Wire:
Alcohol kills more than AIDS, TB or violence
Drinking causes more than 4 percent of deaths worldwide, WHO warnsAlcohol causes nearly 4 percent of deaths worldwide, more than AIDS, tuberculosis or violence, the World Health Organization warned on Friday.… Yet alcohol control policies are weak and remain a low priority for most governments despite drinking’s heavy toll on society from road accidents, violence, disease, child neglect and job absenteeism, it said.Approximately 2.5 million people die each year from alcohol related causes, the WHO said in its “Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health.”“The harmful use of alcohol is especially fatal for younger age groups and alcohol is the world’s leading risk factor for death among males aged 15-59,” the report found.… Alcohol is a causal factor in 60 types of diseases and injuries, according to WHO’s first report on alcohol since 2004.Its consumption has been linked to cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy, poisonings, road traffic accidents, violence, and several types of cancer, including cancers of the colorectum, breast, larynx and liver
Of course the reason we see these startling links between alcohol consumption and disease is because ethanol, the psychoactive compound in alcohol, and acetaldehyde (what ethanol is converted to after ingestion), pose toxic risks to health cells and organs. By contrast, marijuana’s active compounds — the cannabinoids — pose little comparable risk to healthy cells and organs, and are incapable of causing fatal overdose.So answer me again: Why do we celebrate consumers and manufacturers of alcohol while we simultaneously target, arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate consumers and producers of a far safer substance?Isn’t it time to visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ and ask your elected officials that same question?
- Handlers Beliefs Can Influence Bomb Dog Alerts (scientificamerican.com)
- Can Police Dogs Really Sniff Out Drugs? (livescience.com)
- NORML to hold annual conference in Denver – center of the legalize marijuana universe (stillisstillmoving.com)
- Most traffic-stop searches triggered by police dogs wrong and biased (chicagotribune.com)