Police dogs, or K9s, are often used to conduct searches and control suspects. You’ll likely encounter K9s in heavily trafficked public places like airports, stadiums, and shopping malls.
In addition to their role in physical conflicts, police dogs are trained to detect drugs, explosives, and other dangerous or illegal goods. According to the 4th Amendment (Search and Seizures), the police must have reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed in order to conduct a search of your person, property, or vehicle using a K9. During a K9 search, the police dog may alert (a visual cue indicating that they have detected contraband). An alert from a K9 constitutes probable cause, which allows any evidence found during the search to be used in a court of law.
If the police believe that their safety is being threatened, they may use a K9 as a use of force. However, in most circumstances, the police must announce their intent to deploy a K9 before doing so. A K9 announcement should include a request for cooperation and the consequences of failing to do so—it may sound like this:
“If you do not cooperate, I will use my K9 to constrain you. If I deploy my K9, he is going to bite you. This is your final warning.”
Questions & Answers
If I feel that the police are using a K9 unnecessarily, what can I do to prevent the K9 from being deployed?
- Clearly let them know you are trying to surrender. They are usually required to give some warning and a chance to surrender before using a K9.
What should I do if the police deploy the K9?
- You should not try to attack the dog. You could get bitten by a highly trained K9 and any attack on the dog could result in criminal prosecution.