Nevada State Troopers: Our Drug Dogs Are a Con

Friday, June 29th, 2012

This seems like a big deal:

A group of Nevada Highway Patrol troopers and a retired police sergeant have filed a racketeering complaint against the NHP and Las Vegas Metro Police in U.S. District Court.

The complaint alleges that after then-Gov. Jim Gibbons approved a K-9 program to target drug runners on Nevada’s highways, Nevada Highway Patrol Commander Chris Perry intentionally undermined the program.

The complaint alleges that the drug-sniffing dogs used by troopers in the program were intentionally being trained to operate as so-called trick ponies, or dogs that provide officers false alerts for the presence of drugs.

The dogs were being trained to alert their handlers by cues, instead of by picking up a drug’s scent by sniffing, the complaint said. When a dog gives a false alert, this resulted in illegal searches and seizures, including money and property, the complaint said.

I haven’t had a chance to read the complaint, but you can check it out here.

CORRECTION: This post’s headline initially read “New Hampshire State Troopers . . . ” No more posting before coffee.

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24 Responses to “Nevada State Troopers: Our Drug Dogs Are a Con”

  1. #1 |  Andrew S. | 

    Nevada, not New Hampshire.

    And yeah, this seems like a pretty big deal…

  2. #2 |  Al V | 

    Yes. Very effective at collecting up all those casino winnings before they get out of state

    “The drug dog alerted and this $14,500 seems to be covered in drug residue”

    Very effective indeed.

  3. #3 |  Dante | 

    If this is true, it’s huge.

    I just have a hard time believing that any police, anywhere, would expose themselves to backlash from their brothers in blue in order to protect We The People. There has got to be something in it for the accusers.

    Yep, I’m cynical.

  4. #4 |  contrarian | 

    “I just have a hard time believing that any police, anywhere, would expose themselves to backlash from their brothers in blue in order to protect We The People. There has got to be something in it for the accusers.”

    Up to a 25% reward under the False Claims Act? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_Claims_Act

  5. #5 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    That’s cool that the cops come clean, but, seriously, didn’t
    everyone with half a brain already know that “K-9 units” LOL
    were implemented solely to circumvent the 4th Amendment
    by providing “alerts” so ill-defined that no one can dispute them?

  6. #6 |  Lee | 

    This is my surprised face.

  7. #7 |  jeff | 

    I get those two states confused all the time

  8. #8 |  Mike Williams | 

    Like a lot of what I read on here, this will probably fall into the category of things that should be a big deal, but are papered over and then basically ignored.

  9. #9 |  Roho | 

    Yep, should be a big deal.

    They’ve admitted that they’re using false pretense to perform illegal searches. It’s already well-understood that there is no due process for what they confiscate (“No, sir, you’re not in trouble, it’s your money that broke the law! Bad, bad money. For shame.”). So it’s now court-sanctioned highway robbery – stopped, searched, and property taken without even needing to hit the reasonable suspicion threshold.

    At least with traditional highway robbery, they don’t send you on your way with “And don’t let it happen again!”

  10. #10 |  Bergman | 

    Re: Roho, #9:

    If the money that is printed, issued, controlled and owned by the federal government is guilty of a crime, does that make the feds accomplices? Perhaps a RICO action against the U.S. Treasury is in order?

  11. #11 |  Cynical in New York | 

    This deserves an eyebrow raise

  12. #12 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    So, we’re all in agreement that this is a big deal. Now, let’s put eyeballs on it and see what actually happens over the years. Restitution? Convictions? Prison time? Review of past cases? Firings? Media coverage?

    Let’s see.

    PS: Should this be tagged “Police Professionalism”, too?

  13. #13 |  el coronado | 

    Now let’s see how fast the DOJ – which just announced it won’t prosecute Holder, and “Congress can go to hell” – and the courts bury this under paper, continuances and gag orders.

    Over/under on this being disappeared: 2 weeks.

  14. #14 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    That K9 searches involve lies and half-truths is not at all suprising to me. The fact that any CURRENTLY serving officers outed the program is a big shocker though. This story should be plastered all over creation before agencies and police unions can make it all go away.

  15. #15 |  Pi Guy | 

    “Over/under on this being disappeared: 2 weeks.”

    Put me down for under.

  16. #16 |  Personanongrata | 

    A group of Nevada Highway Patrol troopers and a retired police sergeant have filed a racketeering complaint against the NHP and Las Vegas Metro Police in U.S. District Court.

    The folks on the Nevada Highway Patrol that came foward deserve a round of applause.

    Stand-up folks are few and far between when they stand tall and speak out/file a law suit about malfeasance, especially while still on duty.

    Under.

  17. #17 |  Delta | 

    Consider reading the complaint; it’s one of the most fascinating things I ever read (I’m up through the “Facts” section that ends on p. 78). It has all kinds of insider-baseball on police practices. Maybe anyone wishing to become a cop should read it — or anyone interested in dogs to see some of the abuse heaped on them in certain cases.

    But it’s mostly not about fake drug dogs (although there is a compelling dispute over training practices; and more about general 4th Amendment violations like planting drugs, keying open mail parcels, and sabotaging cameras).

    Synopsis: One K9 program collapses in 2002; Governor orders a new one in 2007; one Colonel Perry is opposed to the idea and presents a messed-up plan to the Director. Director rejects it; gives project to a different executive; master trainer from LAPD is hired, and handlers from other nearby LEO agencies.

    Perry vows to sabotage and destroy the K9 unit. This is done by — interrupting pay; demanding manuals written on trainer’s personal time; interrupting training session with spurious new assignments; intercepting documents and replacing them with nonsense forgeries; demanding that no dogs be allowed on the premises of the K9 HQ; breaking into the K9 HQ to steal desks, destroy documents and files; create bogus rights allegations; intimidation; refusal to provide patrol backup; destroy an officer’s home property to remove a kennel; misappropriate asset seizure funds; steal a giant donated check from a promotional event for the K9 unit and try to deposit in the general fund; etc.

    For while the Director can countermand a lot of these orders, but he retires in 2010 and Perry himself becomes the Director. Some of the handlers apparently complained to local TV which did a series and embarrassed Perry, etc. Then most of them quit en masse.

    One of the many interesting things in this filing: A key claim is that a proper K9 units needs centralized training and management within the government, which was part of the downfall of the 2002 unit; and that when this is done by private agencies it leads to fraud, corruption, fake dog training, and rights violations. (There was a struggle over whether to keep the unit centralized with its own in-house trainers or not, even though it was required by the Governor’s order.)

    “It is a common yet ill-conceived practice by many law enforcement agencies to rely on the good will, good faith, and integrity of the profit motivated person or company that is selling them a dog and then training and certifying the same K9 team. Law enforcement agencies like Washoe County Sherriff’s Office essentially relegate their responsibility and accountability to enterprising civilians who actually have no law enforcement experience, including drug interdiction/detection, and have never been vetted. It is a recipe for complacency and degradation of performance standards.” [p. 62]

  18. #18 |  theCL Report: Do Not Consent | 

    […] Nevada State Troopers: Our Drug Dogs Are a Con […]

  19. #19 |  Karen | 

    I live in Las Vegas & have not seen this news in any local paper.

  20. #20 |  Freedoms Almanac » Blog Archive » News Pile | 

    […] Nevada State Police file racketeering complaint concerning Drug dogs trained to false positive on cu… […]

  21. #21 |  NullOp | 

    I have no trouble believing politicians would do this. The cops work for the state and the state is governed by an elected official. Which translates to the state being run by an incompetent. He/she is good at getting elected but everything else is in question. Also, the cops and the legislature want to do away with that troublesome constitution thingy as well as all those pesky laws barring search and seizure. Do they have a valid point? In some cases, yes. In short, yeah, they probably did it.

  22. #22 |  Michael Chaney | 

    I’m with Delta – read the complaint. Even if 1/10 of it is true it would be amazing. I haven’t made my way through it yet, but it doesn’t let up and I’m many many pages into it.

  23. #23 |  rita | 

    The police are blaming the dogs, trained by other people, for their own misdeeds. Clever.

  24. #24 |  Nevada-ANTI-Corruption movement | 

    Nevada Highway Patrol corruption, dash cam tampering & retaliation – The Mike Weston story http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFX8bjPCWlo

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