Mt. Vernon Register-News

Top News

August 15, 2013

Legalized pot may lead to K-9 unit re-training

DENVER — Like the good drug dog he's trained to be, Vader barks and scratches the Chevrolet Suburban's running board when he smells a bag of marijuana hidden between the doors.

Yet the mission for the 80-pound Belgian Malinois is unclear now that Coloradans 21 and older can legally possess as much as an ounce (28 grams), of marijuana. Several new dogs on his 10-member K-9 team won't be trained to sniff out weed while some, like Vader, will keep trying to nose out the drug.

"There are so many unanswered questions," said Colorado Springs police officer Andrew Genta, the K-9 unit's head trainer. "There have not been any test cases to say yes or no we do not have the right to do this."

With new laws that aim to treat marijuana possession much like that of alcohol, law-enforcement agencies in Colorado and Washington state are grappling with whether they should retrain their drug-sniffing dogs to ignore marijuana, retire older pooches who alert when they smell the drug, obtain new animals, or make no changes to their programs.

One issue is whether police can continue to use dogs trained to find pot without violating citizens' rights, in an environment in which marijuana is legal under state law. Officers are also concerned that defense lawyers may use evidence found by such dogs to their advantage in court.

"What's going to come up is a case where a dog hits on a car with two pounds of cocaine," said Sal Fiorillo, tactical operations lieutenant of the Colorado Springs Police Department's Specialized Enforcement Division.

"The defense attorney will say that the dog wasn't hitting on the cocaine, he was hitting on a half-ounce of marijuana, and that's legal," he added. In such a scenario, the lawyer may try have the evidence suppressed because the dog can't differentiate between cocaine and marijuana.

Text Only
Top News
  • VIDEO: Boston bomb scare defendant appears in court

    The man accused of carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker near the Boston Marathon finish line on the anniversary of the bombings was arraigned Wednesday. He's being held on $100,000 bail.

    April 17, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • bomb1 VIDEO: A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong

    The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 14, 2014

  • 25801486.jpg VIDEO: Northern California bus crash kills 10

    At least nine people died in Northern California on Thursday night, in an accident involving a bus, a car and FedEx truck. The bus was filled with high school students from Southern California who were on their way to visit a college campus.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: CBS taps Colbert as Letterman’s Late Show successor

    Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman reports that CBS has announced Stephen Colbert as its choice to replace the retiring David Letterman as host of “The Late Show” on Bloomberg Television’s “Lunch Money.”

     

    April 10, 2014

  • Teen stabs 20 at Pittsburgh-area high school

    MURRYSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — Flailing away with two knives, a 16-year-old boy with a "blank expression" stabbed and slashed 19 students and a police officer in the crowded halls of his suburban Pittsburgh high school Wednesday before an assistant principal tackled him.

    April 9, 2014

  • Fast, cheap test can help save lives of many babies

    As Easley did more research into her daughter's death, she learned that a pilot program had started just months earlier at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md. (Easley had delivered at a different hospital in the Washington area.) The program's goal was to screen every newborn with a simple pulse oximeter test that can help detect heart problems such as Veronica's, allowing doctors to respond.

    April 8, 2014

  • 297px-Starbucks_Corporation_Logo_2011.svg.png Why Starbucks won't recycle your paper coffee cup

    When you drop that used white paper cup into the bin next to the door at a Starbucks, have you done your part to save the planet? Starbucks has long hoped that you would think so. After all, there's no better way to attract an affluent, eco-conscious clientele than to convince customers that your disposable product is "renewable."

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don't blame voters for low turnout

    Suppose nobody votes this year. On Nov. 4 the doors to the polling places are thrown open, and there isn't anyone in line. No absentee ballots are filed. No one litigates, charging either fraud or discrimination, because there weren't any voters.
    It won't happen. But if it did, pundits and activists would surely blame public apathy for such a catastrophe. I'd name a different culprit: the major parties, their candidates and their acolytes in the news media.

    April 4, 2014