Tag: police dogs
What’s a working dog to do? You learn your trade, hone your skills, toil away, only to find out that the world around you has evolved to a point where those skills are no longer much appreciated.
It’s why you can’t find a blacksmith too easily nowadays. It’s what happened to the elevator operator, the milkman, and, at least from my biased and disgruntled point of view, the newspaper reporter.
Such too was the case with Phelan, a marijuana-detecting Labrador retriever in the employ of the police department in Lakewood, Colorado.
With the passage by Colorado voters of Initiative 502 — legalizing the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana — the skill Phelan was best known for is no longer much in demand there.
In fact, his biggest asset has become a liability, the News Tribune reports.
Phelan was handed his pink slip this week and sold to the state Department of Corrections, where, in his new job, his inability to distinguish between marijuana and other drugs won’t be a problem — all drugs being illegal behind bars.
The same story is playing out in Washington state, where voters also legalized marijuana use, and where police departments are figuring out whether to cease training new dogs in marijuana detection, put their existing dogs through ”pot desensitization” training or just retire them and send them out to pasture, according to the Associated Press.
Take it from me, pasture sucks. Dogs and people, I think, prefer having a mission.
But Phelan’s mission, at least in the two states where moderate amounts of marijuana are now permitted, no longer much needs to be accomplished. Worse yet, alerting to small amounts of marijuana could mess up prosecutions in cases involving other, still illegal, drugs.
Say Phelan alerted to drugs in the trunk of a car. Phelan’s inability to distinguish between heroin and marijuana — or at least specify to his handler to which he is alerting — means any subsequent search by officers could have been based on Phelan detecting an entirely legal drug, in an entirely legal amount.
That means the “probable cause” the search was based on might not have really existed, and that means any evidence of illegal drugs subsequently found in the search would likely be tossed out.
Thus Phelan, unless he were to be retrained to drop marijuana-detecting from his repertoire — not easily accomplished — has ended up going from cutting edge law enforcement tool to an old school has been.
Drug detecting dogs — traditionally trained to alert to the smell of marijuana, heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine and cocaine – can’t specify what they’re smelling, much less the quantity it might be in.
In Washington, the new law decriminalized possession of up to an ounce of the drug for individuals over 21, and barred the growth and distribution of marijuana outside the state-approved system.
Dog trainer Fred Helfers, of the Pacific Northwest Detection Dog Association, said abandoning pot training is a “knee-jerk” reaction: “What about trafficking? What about people who have more than an ounce?” Still, he’s helping departments who want to put their dogs through ”extinction training” to change what substances dogs alert to. That takes about 30 days, followed by a prolonged period of reinforcement.
The Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission removed detecting marijuana from its canine team certification standards this year, and no longer requires dogs be trained to detect it, but some others say, given large amounts of pot are still illegal, it can still be a useful skill for a dog to have.
In Pierce County, prosecutor Mark Lindquist believes new dogs are the answer — dogs trained in sniffing out the other drugs, but not marijuana. He’s not convinced dogs can be re-trained. “We’ll need new dogs to alert on substances that are illegal,” he told the Associated Press.
Other police departments, like Tacoma’s, aren’t making any changes.
“The dog doesn’t make the arrest, the officer does,” said spokesperson Loretta Cool. “A canine alert is just one piece of evidence an officer considers when determining whether a crime has been committed.”
Phelan was one of two drug-sniffing dogs on the police force in Lakewood, Colorado. He’ll be replaced by Kira, a Belgian Malinois who was trained not to alert when she smells marijuana. Duke, a Labrador retriever mix with the old-school training, will remain on the force for now.
Phelan, though, will be moving on, and I sympathize with the crime-fighting Lab.
His new gig in the slammer is clearly a step down the career ladder — not unlike going from being a newspaper reporter detecting corruption and injustice to an unpaid blogger who mostly (but not entirely) regurgitates material already written.
And, for Phelan, there’s the added insult of being sold for the lowly sum of one dollar.
Surely — old school as his talents may be – he was worth more than that.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 12th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alert, cocaine, colorado, court, criminal justice, detect, detection, dog, dogs, drug-sniffing, drugs, heroin, job, K-9, k9, lakewood, law, law enforcement, marijuana, marijuana laws, mission, newspapers, police, police dogs, problems, prosecutors, purpose, reporters, searches, skills, sniffing, tacoma, useless, washington, working dogs
Figo wasn’t with his partner when the 33-year-old police officer was shot and killed alongside the road, but the German shepherd attended the funeral and paid his respects.
Jason Ellis, a K-9 officer with the Bardstown Police Department in Kentucky, was shot and killed last Saturday when he stopped to remove some debris from the road, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Police said he was shot multiple times with a shotgun by an unknown assailant.
Ellis was buried Thursday after a funeral service held on the seventh anniversary of his taking the oath as a police officer in Bardstown, a town of about 12,000 people, located 40 miles southeast of Louisville.
The funeral at Parkway Baptist Church, just off Blue Grass Parkway in Bardstown, drew law enforcement officers from Chicago, Pennsylvania, Ohio and across Kentucky, many of them K-9 officers who brought their dogs.
Attendees filled the sanctuary’s 1,000 seats, 500 more seats in a fellowship hall, and were lined up along the walls. After service in the church, there was a 20-mile procession to the rural cemetery in Chaplin where Ellis was buried.
At the funeral, Ellis was remembered as a family man, friend and a hero. Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin said Ellis “paid the ultimate sacrifice doing what he loved: being a police officer.”
(Photo by Jonathan Palmer / Lexington Herald-Leader)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 3rd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ambush, animals, bardstown, dogs, figo, funeral, jason ellis, K-9, killed, law enforcement, officer, pets, photo, police, police department, police dogs, shot
Ivan, a 3-year-old Belgian malinois, was shot and killed two weeks ago while trying to protect officers from an armed carjacking suspect.
The dog park at Purple Heart Park on East Rita Road, which officially opened over the summer, is where Ivan would go with his handler to unwind after his shift.
“(He) would allow him to run the energy off for the night before taking him home,” TPOA secretary, Officer Paul Sheldon, told the Arizona Daily Star.
Sheldon, at the request of Ivan’s handler, Officer Chris Fenoglio, is spearheading an effort to have the park named after Ivan. Last week, he took petitions to the park, seeking signatures in support of the idea.
The petition will be presented to Tucson’s Parks and Recreation department for approval at its next board meeting, after which it would head to the city council for a vote.
Sheldon said he hopes the approval process can be completed by February.
Ivan was shot on Dec. 13 by a carjacking suspect who pulled out a gun when officers encountered him. Released by Fenoglio the dog ran to the suspect and managed to bite his left arm before he was shot.
Sheldon said Fenoglio has received dozens of letters of support from the community.
If the dog park is named after the hero police dog, it won’t be the first time.
In 2006, a Tucson Police Department dog named Miko died after jumping off an overpass in pursuit of a carjacking suspect.
The dog park at Reid Park was named in his honor — Miko’s Corner Playground.
(Photo of Ivan courtesy of Tucson Police Department)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 31st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arizona, belgian malinois, bit, carjacking, department, dog park, dogs, honor, ivan, K-9, k9, killed, line of duty, memorial, miko, name, parks, petition, pets, police, police dogs, purple heart park, shot, suspect, tucson
Rex, 12, whose nickname was “Fluffy,” was was laid to rest at the East-West Police K-9 training grounds and cemetery in Sauget.
“He was a phenomenal dog. Amazing. He saved my life at least two times,” said Rex’s hander, patrolman Keith Lewis.
Lewis, shedding tears, spoke at the service, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.
He recalled how Rex once took down a suspect attacking him with knives, and how, on another occasion, the dog found a man hiding in a pile of leaves with a rifle and night-vision goggles.
Rex served the department from 2001 to 2009, fighting crime and also winning numerous awards in Police Canine Association trials.
Rex retired in 2009 and stayed with Lewis and his family.
Rex had been suffering from herniated disks as well as a degenerative neurological disorder. He was put to sleep early Monday morning.
His final resting place in Sauget is with other police dogs, not far from the center where police K-9s are trained.
(Photo: St. Clair County Sheriffs deputy Calvin Savage salutes Rex during the funeral; by Steve Nagy / Belleville News-Democrat)
The North Carolina Highway Patrol officer who was fired in 2007 after being videotaped kicking his drug-sniffing dog has returned to work.
Charles Jones will be a sergeant in the patrol’s special operations unit, reconstructing accidents, Highway Patrol spokesman Jeff Gordon said Monday.
His rehiring is in response to a court order issued in February. A Superior Court judge, the state personnel commission and an administrative law judge all ruled that Jones should get his job back with the Highway Patrol, according to the Raleigh News and Observer.
The video of Jones kicking his canine partner, Ricoh, was posted on YouTube, leading then-Gov. Mike Easley to get involved. Jones superiors have testified that the governor’s involvement led them to fire Jones, who they had planned to only discipline.
Jones was filmed kicking Ricoh and suspending him by a leash attached to a railing with his rear paws on the ground. The dog had refused to release a piece of fire hose he had been given as a reward for alerting officers to the presence of drugs, according to court documents.
Jones maintained that he was acting within patrol policy. He appealed the decision to dismiss him and won — a decision most recently upheld by a state appeals court.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 3rd, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, charles jones, dog, dogs, drug-sniffing, fired, governor, highway patrol, K-9, k9, kicked, kicking, law enforcement, mike easley, north carolina, pets, police, police dogs, rehired, reinstated, ricoh, state trooper, training, video
The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled today that Charles Jones, shown above kicking his State Highway Patrol dog in September 2007, and fired shortly thereafter, should be reinstated.
And with back pay.
Jones was fired after another trooper turned over two 15-second video clips of him suspending his K-9 partner, Ricoh, from a railing and repeatedly kicking him to force him to release a chew toy.
In 2008, the State Personnel Commission found Jones’ punishment too harsh and ordered that he be reinstated.
Tuesday’s ruling is the latest in a series, all of which agreed the Highway Patrol did not have cause to terminate Jones’ employment. (Ricoh didn’t get a vote.) You can find the full text of the ruling here.
Patrol leaders said they initially planned to discipline Jones but decided to fire him when then-Gov. Mike Easley’s office intervened.
In its ruling, the court noted testimony from Jones’ former supervisor, Lt. Col. Cecil Lockley, who said, “They want him gone … the decision regarding Sgt. Jones’ career was predetermined, not by the patrol’s disciplinary process but by an outside entity.”
Lockley called Jones’ method of disciplining Ricoh “ugly,” but said it did not fall outside the realm of patrol-accepted training techniques.
The appeals court agreed with a lower court ruling that ”the training method used by Jones on Ricoh in this matter, while appearing excessive and extreme to the general public, is not unreasonably outside of or substantially different from several of the training techniques that are tested, trained and approved for use by the Patrol.”
It concluded, “Jones acted consistently with his training, and used compliance techniques on Ricoh similar to those used by all Patrol members who were canine handlers.”
We’d hope that the highway patrol has redefined the boundaries of its realm of training techniques – as it stated it would after the case came to public attention.
A rebuilding of the K-9 unit was promised, and an end to the kind of rough training tactics — swinging, suspending and kicking of patrol dogs — that the video depicts. New training procedures, they said, would specifically prohibit punching, kicking, beating and choking of dogs.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 7th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animals, appeals, back pay, brutal, charles jones, court, courts, cruelty to animals, discipline, dismissed, dogs, fired, governor, highway patrol, K-9, kicked, law, law enforcement, mike easley, north carolina, pets, police, police dogs, political, pressure, procedures, reinstated, ricoh, rough, ruling, suspended, techniques, training, video
The police department said in a news release that Clif and his handler, Sgt. William Bontcue, had just completed a search for a burglary suspect.
They were returning to their car shortly before 6 a.m. when Clif was struck by a car driven by a 75-year-old woman, The Press of Atlantic City reported.
Clif died from his injuries at Linwood Veterinary Hospital about 7 a.m.
A five-year-old German shepherd from Europe, Clif began working for the police department in 2008.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, car, clif, crime, dog, dogs, hit, K-9, k9, killed, law enforcement, new jersey, pets, police, police department, police dogs, struck, vineland, william bontcue
A London police officer who left two police dogs in the back of his car tried to kill himself upon learning both of them had died, The Toronto Star is reporting.
The two dogs, a Belgian Malinois named Chay and a five-month-old German shepherd puppy called Milly, died Sunday after Sgt. Ian Craven allegedly left the animals in the back of an unventilated car at the police force’s dog training centre in the London suburb of Keston.
The RSPCA told the Star that officers were somehow made aware that the two dogs were in the back of the vehicle during the day. They smashed the windows, pulled the animals out and doused them with water. By the time the dogs were taken to a vet, they had died.
The Star cited British media reports that claimed Craven slashed his wrists when he learned that the two dogs had died. Police refused to confirm whether those reports were true.
“Two dogs have died that shouldn’t have,” Police Commander Bob Broadhurst told Reuters.
The incident is being investigated by the RSPCA, and Craven, 49, could face animal cruelty charges.
This is the second time the officer — a 30-year veteran of the force — is alleged to have left animals to die in the backseat of his car. In 2004, he was reprimanded for allegedly leaving a spaniel in a car on a July day. That dog also died, the Star reported.
According to The Guardian, police did confirm that an on-duty officer had abruptly left his post on Sunday, the same day the dogs died, causing other officers to fear for his safety. He was found with hand injuries and taken to a hospital.
Police would not identify the officer and said it wasn’t known if the wounds were self-inflicted.
“While we do not doubt that this was a tragic accident, we would have thought that the Met Police dog unit should be setting an example to others,” said Jan Creamer, chief executive of Animal Defenders International.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 29th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, attempt, belgian malinois, chay, death, die, dogs, dogs left in cars, german shepherd, guardian, heat, heat-related deaths, ian craven, K-9, keston, left in car, london, london police, milly, news, police dogs, reports, rspca, slashed, suicide, toronto star, uk, wrists
Scooby, whose all-knowing nose played a key role in tracking down a cop killer during an interstate manhunt, passed away in his sleep about 9 a.m. Saturday, police said. He’d been suffering from an undisclosed illness, according to the New York Daily News.
The bloodhound was most noted for assisting in the 2007 apprehension of two suspects who had fled the city after gunning down two officers who had pulled them over in Brooklyn for driving a stolen BMW.
Officer Russel Timoshenko, 23, was shot in the face and died a few days later. Officer Herman Yan, his partner and now a detective, was wounded but survived.
The two suspects, Dexter Bostic and Robert Ellis, managed to escape the city and make it as far as the Poconos in eastern Pennsylvania, where they hid out in the woods.
Scooby, joined by six other police dogs and about 300 police officers from several states, launched a manhunt in the woods, based on reports of the two suspects having been seen in a nearby rest area.
Scooby took part in the search that night, and is credited with — when the search resumed the next morning — tracking down Ellis, who was found resting against a tree. Bostic was later apprehended as well.
Bostic was convicted in December 2008 of murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Ellis was convicted only of weapons possession, according to the New York Post, and was sentenced to 15 years.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 2nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bloodhound, dead, death, dexter bostic, died, dog, dogs, herman yan, K-9, k9, killing, manhunt, new york, nypd, pets, police, police dogs, police. officer, robert ellis, russel timoshenko, scent, scooby, shooting
Police in Walsrode, Germany, say they have trained a vulture named Sherlock to lead them to cadavers.
By placing a GPS device on his leg, they can track him and respond — I’d hope before he’s eaten too much of the evidence.
“If it works, it could save time because the birds can cover much more area than sniffer dogs or humans,” officer Rainer Herrmann told the Daily Mail.
The turkey vulture, a natural scavenger, feeds almost exclusively on carrion, finding its meals through keen vision and a sense of smell that allows it to detect the gasses produced during the decay of dead animals from as high as 3,000 feet in the air.
“‘It was a colleague of mine who got the idea from watching a nature programme,” Herrmann said. ”
Sherlock can even find remains in woodland or in thick undergrowth. Unlike sniffer dogs, who need regular breaks, Sherlock doesn’t seem to get tired and can cover a far larger area.
Sherlock is being trained at Walsrode, the largest bird park in the world with 650 different species.
Trainers hope to assemble a squadron of crimefighting vultures, but — given that the vultures aren’t native to the area, would have to be raised from chicks to be tame, and require lots of training — it will be a while before they are called to duty.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 21st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, birds, buzzards, cadaver, cadaver dogs, dead bodies, decay, finding, germany, gps, K-9, k9, locating, news, ohmidog!, pets, police, police dogs, rainer herrmann, scavenger, scent, sherlock, tracking, turkey vultures, vultures, walsrode