Dog sniffs out drugs in Lee Co., but could it soon be illegal?
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CREATED Nov. 15, 2012
FT. MYERS - Lee Co. Sheriff's deputies hit the jackpot when they discovered 25 pounds of marijuana hidden inside spare tires on a car that was being hauled by a car carrier on interstate 75 near Bonita Springs on Wednesday.
"As they were running around the car...as they were issuing him his citation, the dog got the odor of narcotics," said Lt. Pete Hedrick of the Lee Co. Sheriff's Office.
K-9 deputies are a key tool used by deputies, especially along a busy corridor often used to ship drugs to and from the east coast of Florida, but the US Supreme court is hearing two cases that challenge the legality of using police dogs to find drugs.
The challenged was touched off by the 2006 arrest of a man by the name of Joelis Jardine.
A police officer and K-9 went to the front door of Jardine's home and warrant was obtained to search his home when the dog signaled the odor of marijuana inside.
Jardine's attorney argued that his constitutional rights were violated because the dog's signal constituted an illegal search even before obtaining a warrant.
"Maybe they could have said hey we need to get a warrant based on other established evidence before we can go in for a raid," said Naples attorney Sean King, who is not connected to the case.
A US Supreme Court ruling in favor of Jardine could impact law enforcement, which depend on using K-9 drug sniffing dogs every day.
"If I can go there legally as a law enforcement officer, I feel that the dog should be able to come with me," said Hedrick.
Another case also being heard by the high court is that of Clayton Harris, who was stopped and arrested in Florida after officers found pseudoephedrine pills and methamphetamine inside his car.
Harris' case argues that just because a dog is certified and trained to detect narcotics does not mean those results are reliable in court.
But for Lt. Pete Hedrick, a K-9 officer with the Lee Co. Sheriff's office for more than a decade, the results consistently speak for themselves.
"We want to make sure that our records are beyond reproach. We've had no problems in our local court."
But it will now be the high court that will make crucial decisions that could affect drug crimes like the one that happened this week here in Southwest Florida.