After discussing the rationale for the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) funding for the establishment of the Scientific Working Group of Dog and Orthogonal Detector Guidelines (SWGDOG), this report indicates the current status of the SWGDOG’s work.
Although dogs have been used by law enforcement agencies in a variety of investigative tasks, ranging from drug and contraband interdiction to locating human remains, recent media coverage of the unreliability of some dog detections has caused concern about the admissibility of evidence based on dog detections. In addressing this concern, NIJ funded Dr. Kenneth G. Furton’s organizing of the SWGDOG, which functioned from 2004 through 2008 in developing best-practice documents on the effective training and practices of dog detection teams. The SWGDOG was a professional forum of 55 experts from academia, law enforcement, military, and canine organizations. Partnering with local, state, federal, and international stakeholders, the SWGDOG developed consensus-based best-practice guidelines for dog detector teams. It produced 39 guidelines in nine subject areas, including common terminology, service-dog selection, and training protocols. In 2014, Scientific Working Groups transitioned to Organization of Scientific Action Committees (OSACs) for Forensic Sciences within the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The next generation of SWGDOG emerged as the Dogs and Sensor Subcommittee, chaired by Dr. Furton. This group is currently developing SWGDOG’s 39 best-practice guidelines into scientifically validated standards through the process mandated by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Standards Board. To date, one technical report has been approved and five standards have been submitted to the Standards Board.