Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Chemistry

First Advisor's Name

Kenneth G. Furton

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

DeEtta Mills

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Watson Lees

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Anthony DeCaprio

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Yong Cai

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Keywords

analytical chemistry, chemistry

Date of Defense

3-2-2015

Abstract

Biological detectors, such as canines, are valuable tools used for the rapid identification of illicit materials. However, recent increased scrutiny over the reliability, field accuracy, and the capabilities of each detection canine is currently being evaluated in the legal system. For example, the Supreme Court case, State of Florida v. Harris, discussed the need for continuous monitoring of canine abilities, thresholds, and search capabilities. As a result, the fallibility of canines for detection was brought to light, as well as a need for further research and understanding of canine detection. This study is two-fold, as it looks to not only create new training aids for canines that can be manipulated for dissipation control, but also investigates canine field accuracy to objects with similar odors to illicit materials.

It was the goal of this research to improve upon current canine training aid mimics. Sol-gel polymer training aids, imprinted with the active odor of cocaine, were developed. This novel training aid improved upon the longevity of currently existing training aids, while also provided a way to manipulate the polymer network to alter the dissipation rate of the imprinted active odors. The manipulation of the polymer network could allow handlers to control the abundance of odors presented to their canines, familiarizing themselves to their canine’s capabilities and thresholds, thereby increasing the canines’ strength in court.

The field accuracy of detection canines was recently called into question during the Supreme Court case, State of Florida v. Jardines, where it was argued that if cocaine’s active odor, methyl benzoate, was found to be produced by the popular landscaping flower, snapdragons, canines will false alert to said flowers. Therefore, snapdragon flowers were grown and tested both in the laboratory and in the field to determine the odors produced by snapdragon flowers; the persistence of these odors once flowers have been cut; and whether detection canines will alert to both growing and cut flowers during a blind search scenario. Results revealed that although methyl benzoate is produced by snapdragon flowers, certified narcotics detection canines can distinguish cocaine’s odor profile from that of snapdragon flowers and will not alert.

Identifier

FI15032132

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