Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Criminal Justice Students Observe K-9 Unit Demonstration

The students enrolled in CJ 366 (Criminal Procedure) had the opportunity to go visit Ashland’s Police K-9 unit. This visit included dogs from not only Ashland Sheriff’s Department, but also various other surrounding police units.

The class got to see the dogs in action when they chased one of the police officers, who wore a K-9 bite suit and pretended to be a “bad guy.” The dogs were all very well trained, and the class got to experience the strict procedure the officers have to follow.

For example, before the dogs are released to chase the suspect, the police must warn the suspect the dogs will be coming. The police must also ensure the dogs are not barking while they are giving instructions to the suspect.

These procedures help to protect the suspect’s safety by giving them warning and making sure they hear all the instructions, and also protect the police officer against any potential lawsuit that may come against them.

The class also got to experience a narcotics dog finding illegal drugs that were intentionally hidden in a car. These dogs are great assets to the police units and this class got to witness how procedure plays a role in the handling of the dogs.

Professor Rogers, former Ashland County Prosecutor and current CJ Instructor at AU, spoke on the role of trained dogs in law enforcement. 

"In their criminal procedure class, students learned that trained dogs are used by law enforcement in several capacities. For example, students learned that a dog sniff conducted during a lawful traffic stop does not violate the 4th Amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure and that an alert by a dog on a car, in and of itself, provides law enforcement with probable cause sufficient to justify the warrantless search of that vehicle.

While on the field trip, students witnessed a dog alert in the very manner that would provide probable cause for such a search. Students in CJ 366 also learned about the legality of the use of a trained dog to sniff luggage and containers to detect contraband at airports. 
In our class, use of force in arrests was also a topic of study. Police dogs are used to assist in certain arrests and when  properly trained and dispatched after a suspect, the use of the dog constitutes an example of law enforcement using reasonable, nondeadly force to effectuate an arrest. However, after our visit at Ashland Police Department, seeing the speed, strength and focus of the dogs holding training personnel immobile until told otherwise, students could also envision that a poorly trained canine or a canine sent in pursuit of a suspect with improper instructions could result in an allegation that law enforcement used unreasonable, deadly force or punitive force, which were all topics studied by CJ 366 scholars in criminal procedure."

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