Police dog's nose called into question

Updated: 06/11/2009 08:17:41 PM MDT
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As a rookie cop on his first field assignment, police dog Oso seemed to have difficulty following procedure.
His trainer claimed that Oso properly indicated -- by sitting and staring -- that there were drugs in a Cadillac that had been stopped by South Salt Lake police in September 2006. But a video shows the German shepherd barking about the time he purportedly detected the scent of narcotics.
Oso also lacked narcotics certification because an injury prevented him from completing an eight-week training course.
Those factors, among others, led U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball to rule this week that Oso was not a reliable narcotics detention dog when he sniffed around William Vincent Clarkson's car.
And based on that ruling, Kimball threw out as evidence the Ruger semiautomatic handgun found in the vehicle.
Police say they found the gun and a glass pipe in the car but no drugs. After the search, Clarkson was charged with illegal possession of a firearm by a felon. He filed a motion to throw out the evidence, arguing that Oso was not qualified to detect drugs and, therefore, police lacked probable cause to search.
U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell denied the request, saying it was reasonable for an officer at the scene to search because he didn't know Oso might not be qualified.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Campbell and sent the case back for review by Kimball, who issued his ruling on Wednesday.

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