Detection Dogs Have a New Job
The phrase “getting tough on crime,” apparently just rose to an entirely new level. The newest resource in the Colorado police departments’ arsenal centers around detection dogs, trained to sniff out both animate and inanimate objects. These amazing dogs can sniff out human remains, cancer, fire accelerants in arson investigations, mold, contraband mobile phones in prisons, explosives, firearms, endangered species and, of course, drugs. In fact, these highly trained canines garnered a higher success rate sniffing out bombs, than the $19 billion worth of technology purchased by the U.S. Pentagon to do the same job. Investigators in the state of Rhode Island, however, have an entirely new use for these highly trained dogs—the canines sniff out hard drives, thumb drives and other devices which could contain child pornography, in exchange for treats.
Thoreau Graduates from the Connecticut State Police Training Academy
Rhode Island’s star pooch, Thoreau, is a golden Labrador retriever who trained for 22 weeks at the Connecticut State Police Training Academy. Thoreau is trained to unearth electronic gadgets, such as a flash drive hidden in a metal cabinet or a hard drive sealed in a plastic bag, hidden in the attic. The Providence Journal reports that those addicted to child pornography often hide their storage devices in crevices and cracks the police might miss—but that a dog’s sharp nose can more easily track down. Very recently, Thoreau made his first real-life “bust” when he located a flash drive filled with kiddie porn, hidden four layers deep in a metal box inside a metal cabinet. An arrest warrant followed soon after Thoreau’s discovery of the flash drive.
Concerns Regarding Sex-Sniffing Dogs
There are some who have concerns about the method used to train Thoreau and his canine buddies. Because the dogs receive food in return for finding an electronic device, if a dog is hungry enough, it might take food from anyone, rather than only its handler. This could effectively defeat the purpose of the search. It’s not clear whether the sniffing dogs are able to distinguish between a flash drive or hard drive and other common electronics found in most households. Further, considering most Americans own a hard drive or flash drive, using dogs to ferret out hard electronic devices which may or may not contain sexually exploitative materials, seems perilously close to a violation of Constitutional rights.
There is an added worry: Suppose you have recently moved into a new home and are entirely unaware that the last owner hid flash drives filled with kiddie porn underneath a plank in the kitchen floor? People tend to be quick to judge when others are charged with a sex crime, and can overlook the basic tenets of justice. A perfectly innocent person could find themselves the target of a sexual exploitation case, with few ways to prove their innocence. In other words, a life could be left in ruins, based on a dog’s desire for treats.
Coming to a Home Near You?
The trained “sex-sniffing” dogs have been shipped across the country—and even to parts of Europe in an attempt to remove dangerous sexual predators from the streets. Unfortunately, Colorado residents could find their rights being trampled when police use the dogs to find the type of electronic device owned by most of us. A person found in possession of sexually exploitative materials involving a child or children under the age of 18 could face charges ranging from a class 6 to a class 3 felony, with punishment of up to 16 years in prison in the Colorado Department of Corrections, and will be required to register as a sex offender. The penalties are severe, making it especially important that you contact a Colorado attorney skilled in sex crimes cases.
Contact Our Denver Sexual Assault Crimes Lawyers
Those accused of sexual assault need an experienced Boulder criminal defense lawyer on their side from the beginning.
If you have been arrested and charged with sexual assault in Denver, Aurora, Boulder, or anywhere in Colorado, contact the Boulder criminal defense lawyers at Steven Louth Law Offices today for a free consultation and review of your case. Call us at (303)422-2297 to start building a solid defense against these serious criminal charges.