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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
yesterday i got called out by an outside agency for a drug sniff. when i arrived they told me they had found a large quantity of cash and wanted the dog to sniff the money for the odor of drugs.

some background:

-guy is on probation for dope sales
-scale found in house
-small quanties of marijuana in the house
-they found tax return for 2005 and the guy made a VERY modest living as far as uncle sam knew

i told them that there were some legal issues with dogs alerting on money, but that i would try and set it up so as to best minimize some of those issues.

i had one of the deputies put the money in a shoebox. i then had him put that box in a "line-up" of 7 boxes. the lineup was put against a closet door in the master bedroom. i let the dog go in the room off leash (so as to eliminate the defense that i qued the dog). fortunately the dog went over to the "lineup" right away and alerted on the box with the money. the deputies were happy and seized the money.

question: how would you have handled the situation?

i know there are legal issues with sniffing money (large percentage of ALL currency in circulation has trace amounts of drug odor). my thinking was that the dog sniff alone would probably not be enough to get the money in court, but with the other factors, it might tip the scales. what do you think?
 

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What you did is basically what I would do in a similar situation. Have someone place the money without your knowledge of the location, conduct a sniff and what happens, happens. You are also correct it is the totality of the circumstances. Suspects history, reported income, scales (indicating sales/distrubution) etc.

One thing we do with all our drug dogs is a negative test on uncirculated currency. Of course the dog is certified, that's documented. All training is documented, all actual search and the results are documented. When presenting all the above information, along with the negative test on the uncirculated currency, the statement can be made; the dog responds to the odor of drugs, not money.

The negative test is done by placing unciruclated currency during regular training sessions. As in drug targets the handler is not told what is placed or the location. When the dog does not respond to the currency (which they shouldn't) it is indicated on the training record.

In essence, I would have handled it the same as you. YOu didn't mention whether or not you conduct negative tests. That is why I mentioned our program.

DFrost
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
David Frost said:
What you did is basically what I would do in a similar situation. Have someone place the money without your knowledge of the location, conduct a sniff and what happens, happens. You are also correct it is the totality of the circumstances. Suspects history, reported income, scales (indicating sales/distrubution) etc.

One thing we do with all our drug dogs is a negative test on uncirculated currency. Of course the dog is certified, that's documented. All training is documented, all actual search and the results are documented. When presenting all the above information, along with the negative test on the uncirculated currency, the statement can be made; the dog responds to the odor of drugs, not money.

The negative test is done by placing unciruclated currency during regular training sessions. As in drug targets the handler is not told what is placed or the location. When the dog does not respond to the currency (which they shouldn't) it is indicated on the training record.

In essence, I would have handled it the same as you. YOu didn't mention whether or not you conduct negative tests. That is why I mentioned our program.

DFrost
we have never done negative tests. i know about them, but just have never done any training on it. you get the money from the treasury right? i know that we haven't done really much of any currency training so i am quite certain he would not hit on the uncirculated currency, but i agree it's always nice to have the scenario documented. i will look into getting some uncirculated currency...
 

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In this country, we would not "officialize by documenting" the dog's indication. But for practical purposes, IN THIS COUNTRY I would suggest to our handlers to run the exercise with currency in ALL the boxes...the questionable currency in one of them, and then again with other boxes with nothing in them. Both tests twice and vary the order of the boxes.

A single indication with boxes would not be enough for me to commit...in the absence of the other items and background you referred to.

Boxes are a common training tool, so dogs will often quickly go to "a row of boxes" and feel the need to indicate. You have to be careful with that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Andres Martin said:
Boxes are a common training tool, so dogs will often quickly go to "a row of boxes" and feel the need to indicate. You have to be careful with that.
i might agree with that if there was only one box, but like i said, there were 7. so if there was a false response to the box, he had a 1 in 7 chance of getting it right. i know it's not just a coincidence that he got it right...
 

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I would use circulated currency...in all the boxes, except the one with the currency you wish to differentiate, because I would want to ensure the dog is picking up a target scent...not just a "strange to him" scent. Dogs will often indicate on scents that are "strange" in the absence of target scents.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Andres Martin said:
I would use circulated currency...in all the boxes, except the one with the currency you wish to differentiate, because I would want to ensure the dog is picking up a target scent...not just a "strange to him" scent. Dogs will often indicate on scents that are "strange" in the absence of target scents.
that's just about the most un-scientific way of doing it. you have no idea if the other currency has trace amounts of drugs on it. using a "control" the way mr. frost explains involves using just that. a control. we can know for certain the uncirculated currency has no drug odor on it. we cannot do that with circulated currency (thus the problem i eluded to in my original post).
 

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<<would use circulated currency...in all the boxes, except the one with the currency you wish to>>

I don't think you understand the circumstances. Most defense counsels can show a significant amount of US currency has trace drug odor. That is a long standing arguement. The purpose of using uncirculated currency is to demonstrate the dog does NOT hit on money, but will hit on drug odor.

If you have a problem with a dog hitting boxes because they are used to them, then you have a proofing problem. As far as novel odors go, dogs may pay an interest in something new, but if it responds, then it is wrong and there is a flaw in training somewhere.

I would submit our search and seizure laws are a bit differnt that perhaps what you are used to. Here, it is essential that you document your training and utilization. It will be challenged in a significant case.

DFrost
 

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David correctly states that we work in vastly different environments. Given what you describe, Tim...I would still go for more than one test. Regarding uncirculated vs, circulated, YOU must do as your law provides for...but see the asterisk below.

I do not mean to be argumentative, and again as David states, if a dog indicates on a strange odor there's a flaw in training somewhere. This ocurs often enough to warrant your being careful.

Tim...what I'm driving at is that I would want to be very sure that my dog is indicating apropriately. That is all. After all, it's YOUR dog, and you may be called up to back up what you've done.

*Regarding trace amounts of drugs in currency...I would fully expect my dog to alert on the strongest odor. I would hate to walk into a drug dealer's den, and have my dog sit in front of everything. This would be more important still, if you're detecting explosives.

So, for me, in my circumstances...where I would not document what the dog did...where the dog's indication would only serve to define resource commitment...I would use more than one test, circulated currency in all but one box, a well trained dog, and a run on empty boxes.

You can make the argument that since MUCH of the circulating currency has traces of drugs on it, your dog is simply indicating on "MUCH of the currency"...which even you could have in your pocket.
 

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This is a very interesting thread! I'm not a LEO, but I have a question about the following comment, made by Andres:

*Regarding trace amounts of drugs in currency...I would fully expect my dog to alert on the strongest odor. I would hate to walk into a drug dealer's den, and have my dog sit in front of everything. This would be more important still, if you're detecting explosives.

How is the dog supposed to know if something he hasn't gotten to yet has a stronger odor than something he's sniffing now? For example: Say box 7 has a stronger odor than box 3, but the dog sniffs box 3 before he gets to box 7, smells the target odor there, at box 3, and alerts as he has been trained to do. I guess what I'm confused on is the expectation that the dog should not alert to box 3, but wait until he gets to box 7 because there is more odor there, when he has no idea that box 7 smells stronger while he's sniffing box 3.

:?:
 

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<<*Regarding trace amounts of drugs in currency...I would fully expect my dog to alert on the strongest odor.>>

Properly trained, a dog will go to the strongest point of odor. If residual odor is all that is available, the dog will respond at the strongest point. If there are larger amounts, the dog will work to the strongest source. If they didn't do this, then dogs would constantly be "fringing" or giving the the response as soon as odor is encountered.

DFrost
 

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<<<For example: Say box 7 has a stronger odor than box 3, but the dog sniffs box 3 before he gets to box 7, smells the target odor there, at box 3, and alerts as he has been trained to do. I guess what I'm confused on is the expectation that the dog should not alert to box 3, but wait until he gets to box 7 because there is more odor there, when he has no idea that box 7 smells stronger while he's sniffing box 3. >>>>

Using your example, the dog should respond on each box, if it is an odor that has been trained to respond too. Having said that, there is the possibility of the odor from box 7 overriding the odor in box 3. The way a dog determines "source" is to always look for the next higher concentration of odor. If a higher concentration is not available, then, during training, the dog has been conditioned to respond to that point.

Does that make sense?

DFrost
 

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When we scan money we use boxes or envelopes. We wear latex gloves and place the suspected money in one box then change gloves. We then place unsuspected money in another box and change gloves. We then put uncirculated money from the mint in another box and change gloves. We then scan all of the boxes or envelopes in a line to include 2 or 3 empty boxes or envelopes. I would not have done the money scan in the suspects home. I would have done it in an untainted enviroment like outdoors at the police station. Money looses the odor of CDS after about 72 hours.
 

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"Money looses the odor of CDS after about 72 hours."

I'd like to see the research on that. There are hundreds of defense lawyers that will definately argue that point.

DFrost
 

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I have never knowingly run my detection dog over currency. My dog has never been "proofed" on uncirculated money. If my dog alerts on a cache of money I want to be able to argue that she has been trained on detecting the odors of illegal narcotics and that she has never been knowingly exposed to currency. I think "proofing" dogs on currency opens too many questions for the defense to argue over.

I have told other agencies no when they ask if I can run my dog over cash. I tell them you shouldn't have told me there was money involved in the sniff. If they just tell me they have a car, house, or items they wanted sniffed I'll run the dog. Oh yeah Detectives get pissed when you tell them no.

If it happens she alerts on currency then I think I am in a better position to argue the dog was alerting on the odor of a drug that she has been trained to detect and not having to rebut a defense attorney arguing that my dog has been trained to alert on currency. My answer to that: Here are my training records. My dog has never been trained on or knowingly been exposed to currency.

Just my two cents
 

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I don't disagree at all. We never train with any contaminated currency. Actually, we don't train with any type of currency. We do, however, conduct negative trials on currency and many other items that are associated with the drug trade. We run the negative trials to document the dog does not respond to those item. In testimony, when you can document the dog does respond to the odor of drugs, does not respond to the odor of currency or other items related to the drug trade, the logical conclusion is, the dog responded to the odor of drugs.

DFrost
 

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We had an incident a few weeks ago where one of our guys pulled a fat roll if cash $3,000 out of a known dealer’s pocket on a stop. Both he and the car were clean. The officer asked if there was anything we could do about the money. I told him to stick the wad in one of the police car gas tank lids and we would run it. He did.. dog hit.. money went to the District Attorney’s office for an Ion Scan and forfeiture.
Don’t get caught up making it more complicated than it needs to be…. But check with your DA’s forfeiture unit to see what they would like.
 
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