Bad smell

A police dog sniffed something on Renard Powers’ backpack. It proved to contain nothing but books and papers, but Powers, a B student with no record of misconduct, was suspended from his Savannah high school for “passive participation” in . . . Drug use, I guess. Maybe he put his backpack next to the backpack of a drug-toting classmate. Maybe the smell of his lunch lingered and attracted the dog. Maybe the dog isn’t infallible. The principal says students must be responsible for their actions. What actions?

Via Zero Intelligence.

About Joanne


  1. D. Cooper says:

    I’m not a lawyer … but I think that if this kids parents called me by mistake, I could make and win the case for them. There’s always more to a story than meets the eye and people love to knee-jerk. But given what’s been told here …seems like a fifth grader could win this case.

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    If guys like these administrators had somewhat larger equipment, they could manage the power trip being a Cub Scout leader provides.
    Unfortunately, they can’t operate on their own.

  3. Well, someone’s acting like they’re smoking something… But it’s not the kid…

  4. The statutes on abuse of authority by public employees need to be strengthened. If the facts on this case are as they are reported, the school officials should be liable not only to lose their jobs, but to go to jail.

  5. Laura (southernxyl) says:

    The school principal apparently thinks the drug-sniffing dog is the equivalent of a laboratory instrument. Hey, I hope my employers don’t find out about that – they could fire me and throw out all the HPLCs and just hire a bunch of dogs.

    I agree with David. She’s either too stupid or too hateful to be allowed to walk around loose.

  6. Cocaine and marijuana were detected? I sure would love it to put that dog on the witness stand to hear its explanation of how it told the officers just exactly what it sniffed.

    “Passive participation” must mean being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If I were a drug user, I’d send those school officials a nice package in the mail. Then their arrests would at least have some tangible evidence, and I’m sure they’d be completely accepting of the consequences of their actions (in this case, getting their mail).

  7. Steve LaBonne says:

    As a forensic scientist, I’m astounded and appalled and deeply offended that such an action would be based solely on the dog. What idiots. I certainly hope the parents sue, and ask for considerable monetary damages for their son’s damaged reputation. A competent lawyer will have no trouble finding a highly qualified forensic chemist as an expert witness, who’ll get the cops and the school district laughed out of court. Hell, if I were a drug chemist rather than a DNA analyst I’d volunteer myself on an expenses-only basis.

  8. Daniel Newby says:

    While dogs are sensitive, they have a high failure rate. DARPA funded the Dog’s Nose Program for trace explosive detection specifically because dogs are too unreliable. The principal’s statement that the dog smelled marijuana and cocaine is completely unwarranted. However he was probably relying on the statement of the dog handler, whose incompetence is probably actionable, even if the suspension is revoked.

  9. D. Cooper says:

    Something ‘smells’ fishy here … this is just all too simple… there’s got to be more. Any two bit ACLU lawyer would be all over this like white on rice.

    Any follow up would be appreciated. In rechecking the story, this was Georgia! No offense goobers, but what’s going on down there y’all.

  10. Please check your local police blotters for more abuse of Americans. Find those abuses under DUI arrest. Please read up on the infallabilities of breathalyzer devices, and wonder why America has become a criminal producing nation.

  11. Mike Roemer says:

    Although the entire episode as written sounds like the typical “overreaction” her words about the “quarter sized” play gun transpose this from a simple “error in judgement” to plain old stupidity. If, a college educated, trained “professional”, who is in charge of an entire school, is incapable of distinguishing between a real threat or a toy, or for that matter a dogs reaction without the prerequisite evidence to back it up, then I submit this person is unqualified for any position of power. Zero tolerance seems to be the stronghold of the incompetant.

  12. D. Cooper says:

    IX … I’d worry more about the needless slaughter on our highways by the wwekly parade of shit-faced drivers. I’d question the impact that malfunctioning breathalyzers have had on the criminalization of our society compared to the impact ‘red in the faced’ drives have had upon the death rate. You sound like an ACLU lawyer!!

    If you want to check the abuse of Americans, just pick of the morning paper and read about the most recent traffic fatality … probably drug related!

  13. Back when I socialized with small-time smugglers, several statutes of limitations ago, we discussed the possibility of imbueing cars crossing the border with enough drug-smell as to cause drug dogs to alert. Nice to know that such mischief would be effective.

  14. D.Cooper:

    The needless slaughter on our roads isn’t the fault of drugs. It is the fault of bad drivers. The vast majority of car accidents are caused by stupidity and fatigue. The problem isn’t that drivers are high on something. The problem is that idiots are driving.

    I think that driving while under the influence of something is stupid. It’s as stupid as driving too fast, tailgating, running a red light, making an unsafe lane change, or countless other infractions. But for some reason, getting liquored up changes things in the eye of the law. If I decide to run a light and kill a family in the process, I probably won’t serve any jail time. But if I do so while drunk, it’s mandatory. What’s the difference?

    Scary fact: it’s easier to get a drivers’ license than a high school diploma.

  15. D. Cooper says:

    Your assessment of highway fatalities is more than laughable, it is absolutely 100% false. Your blaming fatalities on speeding, tailgating, etc. ignores the fact that most of those ‘infractions’ as you call them are indeed performed by stupid drivers…stupid drivers under the influence. You can debate the merits of how people are prosecuted under our laws, but that doesn’t take away the fact that under the influence, you’re more likely to run a red light as well as having less control than if you weren’t drinking.

    Scary fact .. I taught high school for 30+ years ..the scary fact you cite is also 100% wrong… you have to actually do something to get a drivers liscense, all you need to do for a high school diploma is show up. Getting a drivers liscense SHOULD be easier than getting a high school diploma … but alas it is not. That’s another story.

    You should seriously rethink what you said here Jon. And don’t be driving down my street.. And plase go check out some statistics. It may suprise you.

  16. Driving under the influence IS stupidity. It is just one of many kinds.

    And the fact that alcohol is “involved” (most statistics show correlation, not causation) in accidents isn’t enough to say it is always the cause of those accidents. The link is strong, but not always provable: did the drunk drive poorly because he was an idiot, or did he drive like an idiot because he was drunk? One? Both? If he hits me, I don’t care. At that point it doesn’t matter why he hit me, but how to keep that and other idiots off the road.

    A sober idiot can be just as dangerous as a drunk one. Yes, drunks are dangerous, driving drunk is dangerous, and it’s a problem that causes loads of calamity. But I think the human is the problem, not the alcohol.

    Alcohol, like guns, cars, greasy food, porn, drugs, sex, and credit cards, should be used in moderation if used at all. Misuse can be harmful, but don’t blame them for the stupidity of their users.

  17. D. Cooper says:

    Jon, stop … you’re making a fool out of youself with your argument. Maybe at the scene of the next traffic fatality, we can give the ‘idiot’ a quick Stanford Binet instead of a breathalyzer. The issue here wasn’t that the person under the influence was an idiot, it was the testing of such idiots and the fallacy of those tests. That’s because IX was worried about the misuses of breathalyzer tests … of course there’s always blood tests to verify. The ACLU lawyers can take care of defending the errant breathalyzer tests.

    In any event, a stupid person sober will in all likelyhood be less of a danger than any drunk. And although alcoholism is a disease than can be controlled, albeit not necessarily easily, stupidity is somewhat less controlled. When it’s all said and done, I’d rather be driving near a stupid sober driver rather than a smart drunk. Driving takes some common sense and some coordination, but it’s not rocket science either.

  18. snoop dog says:

    who ever was smoking that heezy weezy i hope it was some good shit the stronger the branch the better the bud.

  19. DWI, drunk driving, DUI, and a license to drink.
    madd, sadd, radd, A.A., and Alanon related.

    Copyright: 1993-2004 © Bruce Alm

    The answer to the problem of drunk driving, etc. could be this; a permit for the purchase and consumption of alcohol beverages.

    This would not only be a major assault on the problem of drunk driving, but would also have an effect on virtually all other crimes such as these;
    murder, rape, assault, burglary, robbery, suicide, vandalism, wife beating, child beating, child molestation, the spread of aids, college binge drinking, animal cruelty, etc., the list is endless.

    If this proposition was made law, there could be a major reduction in all these areas of concern, even though the emphasis concerning alcohol abuse seems to be drunk driving in particular.

    There could also be many other positive results;

    families healed, better work performance, booze money spent on products that would help the economy (we’ve all heard of the guy who spends half his check in the bar on payday,) would spare many health problems, etc.

    This new law could go something like this:

    Any person found guilty of any crime where drinking was a factor would lose the right to purchase and/or consume alcohol beverages.

    For a first misdemeanor, a three year revocation. a second misdemeanor, a ten year revocation. a third misdemeanor, a lifetime revocation. Any felony crime, an automatic lifetime revocation.
    Anyone caught drinking alcohol without a permit would receive a possible $1000 fine and/or jail sentence. those who would supply alcohol to people without a drinking permit (and possibly make money at it,) would also lose his/her right to purchase alcohol beverages.

    What wife or husband would buy an alcoholic spouse a bottle?

    What friend would give a problem drinker a drink at the possible cost of a thousand bucks and the loss of their own privilege? This could be a total discouragement to these would-be pushers.

    This permit doesn’t seem as though it would be a problem to put into effect. It could simply be a large X, or whatever, on the back of any drivers license in any state, to show who has been revoked, and cannot purchase alcohol.

    Most people of drinking age have a driver’s license, but one area that might be a problem could be New York City, where many people don’t drive.

    This problem could be resolved, however, by a license-type I.D. specifically for the purchase of alcohol beverages. Most, if not all states have these already for the purpose of identification.
    This could be a small price to pay for the saved lives of thousands of Americans each and every year.

    After this, it would simply be a matter of drinking establishments checking I.D.s at the time of purchase.
    In the case of crowded bars, they could simply check I.D.s at the door, as they do now.

    Would this be a violation of rights?

    There can be no argument here since they already check I.D.s of people who look as though they may not be old enough to drink.

    This could be a good saying, “If a person who doesn’t know how to drive shouldn’t have a license to drive, a person who doesn’t know how to drink shouldn’t have a license to drink.”

    Here are some other pluses to this idea:

    A good percentage of people in correctional institutions are there because of alcohol related offences . Because of this, court, penal, and law enforcement costs could drop dramatically.

    The need for A.A., ALANON, MADD, SADD, etc., could be greatly diminished as well.

    What the alcoholic fears most, is the temptation to have that first drink, usually a spur of the moment type thing. Without the ability to do this, he/she is fairly safe. To start drinking again would almost have to be planned in advance. and to maintain steady drinking would be extremely difficult, in most cases.

    Even though A.A. members as a group don’t become involved in political movements, it seems as individuals, they would all be in favor of a situation like this. Any person who wants to quit drinking, even if never having been in trouble with the law, could simply turn in their license for the non-drinking type.

    A woman from MAAD, on the NBC TODAY show, said “One out of every ten Americans has a drinking problem, and that 10% consumes 60% of all alcohol beverages sold in the U.S..”
    If this is true, there could be financial problems for breweries, liquor stores, bars, rehab centers, etc., as well as lawyers, massive amounts of tax revenue ‘down the drain,’ and so on.
    But it doesn’t seem as though anyone would have a valid argument against a proposal such as this for financial reasons. To do so would be morally wrong, and could be likened to a drug-pusher attitude.

    Even with the problems this new law could present, it still could, in one sense, be considered the simple solution to the number one drug problem in the U.S. and elsewhere. Alcoholism.


    What ever happened to the skid row drunk?


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