Pubdate: Tue, 7 Dec 2010
Source: Clarion-Ledger, The (Jackson, MS)
Copyright: 2010 The Clarion-Ledger
Author: Therese Apel
Bookmark: (Drug Dogs)
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)


Many veteran narcotics officers can tell you that people will hide
drugs almost anywhere.

The Jackson Police Department has two new tools to unearth the most
well-hidden contraband.

Their names are Alpha and Darius.

The two K9s joined the force about three months ago, officials said,
and have been on the streets in marked cruisers for about a week, said
JPD Deputy Chief Brent Winstead.

JPD had gone a few years without a K9 unit, and Chief Rebecca Coleman
made the project a priority, he said.

"When I came aboard, we had retired the last K9 dog, and we have had
situations that have come up that would warrant the use of the K9, and
we'd have to contact the Sheriff's Department or other law enforcement
to use theirs," Coleman said.

Of course, Darius and Alpha don't just police on their own. Darius, a
2-year-old black German shepherd, is accompanied by Detective Altrich
Harvey and Alpha, a Belgian Malinois, rides with Detective Michael

The officers went through the three-week training with their dogs and
continue to train a few hours each day. The officers and their
four-legged partners are together around the clock. "He's another
child," Mooney said. "He eats, sleeps, showers and works with me,
literally. I know when he doesn't feel good, and he knows when I don't
feel good."

Harvey said sometimes just being away from him can stress Darius

"He's a part of me," he said. "When I go away from him, he'll whine
until he sees me again, and then he'll relax."

But don't think these dogs are common house pets, the dogs will go
after drugs hidden in the most obscure places, the officers said.

"These guys (dealers) will do whatever they have to to keep from going
to jail," Harvey said.

The strangest bust was when Alpha indicated there were drugs on a
baby, Mooney said. "Most uniformed officers won't look in a stinky
diaper," he said.

Harvey and Mooney were selected through a competitive process that
included interviews with Winstead. The officers are on call at all
times regardless of how many hours they may have worked.

"If the phone rings, we've got to go," Harvey said.

JPD officials said seized drug funds paid for the dogs and all their
equipment, which includes bullet-resistant dog vests and cars that
page the officers if there is a mechanical failure in the vehicles
that would leave the dogs closed in a hot car for too long. Coleman
said the investment is well worth it.

"I think it should make everyone happy that we take the resources of
these criminals and use it against them," Assistant Chief Lee Vance
said. "It's a valuable way to turn the tables, so to speak." 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake