Dog 'Scent Lineups' Called Stupid Pet Tricks

False convictions raise doubts about police use of sniffing dogs
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2009 8:45 AM CST
Dog 'Scent Lineups' Called Stupid Pet Tricks
Explosives-sniffing dog Kali is led by University of Washington police officer Kenny Johns as they inspect cars in a lot adjacent to the Seattle Seahawks' stadium Oct. 18, 2009, in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

After years sniffing out drugs and explosives, police scent dogs have found a controversial new line of work: In "scent lineups," a dog given a scent from the scene of a crime picks out a matching smell from a lineup of swabs taken from suspects. Advocates say scent lineups have proved their worth, but those falsely convicted in lineups beg to differ.

One man convicted in a scent lineup served eight months for murder before the real killer confessed to the crime; another sniffed out for burglary was released from prison after store videos showed he didn't look like the burglar. Critics warn that scents are easily cross-contaminated and scent lineups poorly controlled, but New York, Texas, and many other states continue to use the technique, the New York Times reports.
(More police dogs stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.