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It had a jacket that said "do not pet"
December 10, 2012 11:56 AM   Subscribe

As I was walking through the student union today (that's a sort of food court / general conference room area in the center of campus) I came across a K-9 unit with a dog that was sniffing people as they walked past. Down the hall there were three other officers watching. Is this just trolling to catch people with drugs, or is it likely that they were trying to find something or someone in particular?
posted by codacorolla to Law & Government (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
The best way to find a real answer is to call campus safety and ask them. Could be there was a bomb threat? Could be they are training the dogs to stay calm in crowds?
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:58 AM on December 10, 2012


AFAIK, searching everyone that walks by (assuming a drug dog counts a search) would be wildly unconstitutional and any evidence thus seized would be thrown out.
posted by kavasa at 12:08 PM on December 10, 2012


AFAIK, a drug dog does not count as a search (which is why if you decline a search of your car, they'll call a K-9 unit out to sniff around and indicate somewhere on the car, constituting reasonable suspicion, or whatever the legal term is, which then allows them to conduct a search).

With three officers down the hall watching, maybe the officer handling the dog was in training?

(Sorry I can't answer your real question.)
posted by WasabiFlux at 12:15 PM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


AFAIK, searching everyone that walks by (assuming a drug dog counts a search) would be wildly unconstitutional and any evidence thus seized would be thrown out.
So long as the dog is on public property, it isn't a search in the legal sense of the term. In general, an alert from a dog is sufficient to permit a real search or detention. It is extremely common to do this outside cars and in public spaces (including school lockers) and those searches have been backed up by the courts repeatedly. There are two cases before the Supreme Court now considering the legality of having dogs sniff your yard and front door that might establish some limits, but they could well have just been trolling and not looking for anyone specific.
posted by Lame_username at 12:16 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, I could also mention that if the dog or officer were in training, a college campus would be a great place to be true and false positives and negatives, at least for certain drugs - assuming it was a drug dog.
posted by WasabiFlux at 12:18 PM on December 10, 2012


The training aspect seems rational. I believe that the campus PD has an educational role for young cadets in training:

UMDPS is the only university police department in the State and one of a relatively few police departments State-wide to offer a fully certified Entry Level Police Training Academy.
posted by codacorolla at 12:56 PM on December 10, 2012


I would find it hard to believe that the university would allow/encourage police officers to come with dogs to randomly sniff students. Maybe in a high school, where the school would get bad press if a student is found on campus with drugs, this makes sense. In a university, the school has zero incentive for students who have drugs to be discovered.
posted by katieanne at 1:05 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Were you at UMD? When I used to work on campus several years ago, I used to see K-9 units doing training fairly regularly out back by Tawes Hall, which is pretty close to the student union.
posted by drlith at 1:15 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


See also this:
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND POLICE ANNOUNCE NEW EXPLOSIVE DETECTION K9 PROGRAM
posted by drlith at 1:18 PM on December 10, 2012


Yep, I am at UMD. Do you think they had another officer with explosive-type stuff planted on him, and they were conducting a test to see if the dog could find it? I plan on giving the non-emergency number a call tomorrow to see if they can tell me any more.
posted by codacorolla at 1:31 PM on December 10, 2012


It is also possible that the dog is in training, and they wanted to bring it to a place where there are tons of people and distractions in order to see how it does. I know that when I worked at a Student Union building there were always police officers around, not necessarily to do anything in particular, but as part of the campus outreach (and also so that they would be nearby if something happened on campus), and sometimes we saw officers with dogs, although never for any particular purpose.
posted by markblasco at 4:05 PM on December 10, 2012


For anyone who's curious, I got in contact w/ someone at the station and it was indeed just a training exercise for both the dog and the officer.
posted by codacorolla at 12:22 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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