News 01.21.10

Texas Dog Handler to Retire

A Texas sheriff’s deputy who has come under fire in recent months for questionable investigative practices announced yesterday that he will retire at the end of the month.

The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s office said 63-year-old deputy Keith Pikett’s decision to retire was not related to pending lawsuits against him. Sheriff Milton Wright did say, however, that demand for Pikett’s services handling scent-tracking dogs had declined following recent negative reports. “The adverse publicity has certainly shut him down — at least out of county,“

Wright told the Associated Press

.

For more than 20 years, Pikett has trained police dogs and conducted more than 2,000 “scent lineups” — procedures in which dogs examine a group of scents, including a suspect’s, to determine if any match a scent from the crime scene.

At least three lawsuits allege that Pikett’s dogs picked innocent people, leading to wrongful arrests. All three cases were dropped before trial. Additionally,

a report from the Innocence Project of Texas in September

questioned the accuracy of scent lineups and alleged that Texas prosecutors use Pikett’s scent lineups to confirm suspicions about a suspect.

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