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What do you get when you cross laundry, a dog, and a Hefty bag?

A few years ago, Georgetown law professor David Cole famously catalogued the list of characteristics that government agents over the years had cited as attributes of a drug courier profile. Among the characteristics cited were: arriving in the morning, arriving in the afternoon, arriving in the evening. Disembarking first, disembarking last, and disembarking in the middle of the crowd. Traveling alone, and traveling with someone. In short, these "profiles" were merely an excuse invented by police after the fact to justify their stops and searches of passengers.

To that list of absurdities, we can add taking out the trash on trash day. Police in Carlsbad, California raided the home of Dina Dagy. Why? She used a lot of electricity, a police dog "reacted as though it had smelled drugs," and the Dagys took out the trash. "Huh?" you may be thinking. No, really:

They also noticed the family had put its trash out that morning, something police say drug growers often do to hide the evidence. In the Dagys' case, however, it was trash day.
Yes, they made that argument with a straight face: putting out the trash is "something drug growers often do." Their other arguments were less silly, but no more legitimate:
When authorities noticed how high the [utility] bill for the Dagy home was, they sent a police dog to the neighborhood, and it reacted as though it had smelled drugs.
Of course, these sorts of dogs "react" by sitting down, which makes their slightly less than unambiguous. So based on lack of conservation, a tired dog, and some bags of trash -- which, incidentally, the police could simply have examined, since it is not constitutionally protected once it is placed out at the curb -- they were able to obtain a warrant.

Apparently, that's pretty common:

Authorities say they have already apologized verbally several times and were only following proper procedures. Tracking down marijuana growers by reviewing electricity bills, they say, is a common practice.
Your government at work, folks. Keeping America safe from terrorists and those who do too much laundry.


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