LEGAL ISSUES FOR SCHOOL ADMINISTRATIONS
Public school officials have a duty to protect their students and maintain a safe environment conducive to education.
With regard to lockers and automobiles, the Court held that a dogs' sniffing of students' lockers in public school hallways and automobiles parked in public school parking lots does not constitute a search within the meaning of the fourth amendment, and therefore, is not unconstitutional. The court analogizes the sniffing of lockers to the sniffing of luggage checked in at the an airport or bus terminal reasoning that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in the airspace surrounding the luggage.
Additionally the Court speaks to a "public smell" doctrine adopted by other courts as an exclusion to the protection of the fourth amendment and analogizes it to the doctrine of plain view which is also outside the purview of the fourth amendment (the doctrine of plain view basically states that contraband exposed to public view is not afforded fourth amendment protection.
In reference to the fourteenth amendment protection against the deprivation of liberty without due process of law, the Court held that the minimal harassment accompanying the mere presence of the dogs on school grounds did not rise to the level of due process violation. This conclusion was reached regardless of the fact that these dogs were of the breeds often used as police service dogs because the ones employed in this situation were selected due to their non-aggressive and docile nature.
Under the Court's ruling, the use of canines to detect the presence of drugs or alcohol by sniffing students' cars or lockers is not a search and therefore there is no fourth amendment concern. The Court additionally found that the fourteenth amendment was not a viable concern. Thus the use of our k9 search utilizing highly trained detection dogs should not raise any constitutional concerns.
Snyder's K-9 Scent Detection
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