Detecting drugs, danger

Police dogs comb cemetery grounds for scent of drugs hidden throughout in day of training.

By Veronica Rocha
Published: Last Updated Wednesday, April 1, 2009 10:56 PM PD
GLENDALE — Police dogs from 10 law-enforcement agencies scoured pockets of Forest Lawn Memorial Park on Wednesday, searching for people hiding out and sniffing trucks for drugs during training scenarios.

Caila, a Belgian Malinois from the Burbank Police Department, climbed up and down trucks and sniffed for drugs that were hidden in various compartments. She found all the drugs, which include methamphetamine, marijuana, heroin and cocaine.

As a reward for finding the drugs, Burbank Officer Theresa Geier allowed her to play with a green tennis ball.

“The important reason we are here is to train constantly with these dogs,” she said.

The Glendale Police Department hosted Wednesday’s training event at the cemetery in order to work together with other police agencies’ K-9 units in case they need each other’s help during an emergency, said Sgt. Todd Anderson of Glendale’s K-9 unit.

“This is all about detection work,” he said of the event.

About 25 police dogs, including German shepherd and Malinois breeds, participated in the detection training, Anderson said.

Training is crucial to a police dog’s success in locating people, drugs or bombs, he said. Glendale’s four police dogs — Sam, Yudy, Marlin and Quwai — constantly train in order to be efficient out in the field, Anderson said.

The dogs have been with the department since the unit was created three years ago, he said.

“Our whole program runs off of private donations,” Anderson said.

Glendale’s dogs are all trained in patrol work, but three of the K-9s are specialized in finding narcotics and the fourth sniffs for explosives, he said.

“They are all very well-trained,” Anderson said.

Every dog has its own way of signaling to its handler that it found something.

“When they find something, some sit, bark or scratch,” he said. “It just depends on what they are looking for.”

Glendale Police set up four training scenarios — including a pursuit, an open-area search and a building search and detection — for the dogs, said Officer Maribel Feeley, who trains Yudy.

She enjoys working with a police dog because, she said, it can check an area to make sure it’s safe before an officer goes in. Without a police dog, an officer has a greater risk of being attacked, she said.

“We would not know whether we are right upon the person,” Feeley said.

She walked with deputies and officers from various police departments along the open area search scenario to make sure they knew where they were going. Then three Glendale Police officers hid in different spots of the scenario and pretended they were civilians. They wore gear to protect them from dog bites.

Sgt. Tim Feeley was wearing protective gear when he was bitten by Ahron, a Ventura County Sheriff’s Department K-9. The dog’s bite was strong and forceful, he said.

“People don’t understand how powerful these dogs are,” Feeley said.

No comments: