Back on March 6, we discussed a pair of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court that could have a big impact on police powers in Pittsburgh versus the Fourth Amendment's search warrant requirement to prevent random, unlimited government searches of people and their personal property. The cases were heard by the Court simultaneously because they both involved police in the same state using a police dog to search for drugs without a warrant.
How much and under what circumstances should police in Pittsburgh and across the U.S. be empowered to search your home or vehicle based on a police dog's nose? That was the question before the Supreme Court last year when it heard oral arguments in two cases involving warrantless police searches justified by dog sniffs. In its first ruling on the cases, the Court unanimously ruled that an accidental identification of drug paraphernalia was rightfully allowed in court -- even though studies have strongly questioned whether dogs actually can be trained to alert police to the presence of illegal drugs.