Pubdate: Fri, 04 Jun 2010
Source: Winkler Times (CN MB)
Copyright: 2010 Winkler Times
Author: Ashleigh Viveiros


The newest member of the Winkler Police Service is now on the beat.

Tika, a four-year-old Belgian Malinois, has been fully certified for 
duty with Winkler's first canine unit, led by handler Cst. Arnie Klaassen.

The crime-fighting duo wrapped up six weeks of training with the 
Winnipeg Police Service's canine unit last month, and have been 
hitting the streets together for the last few weeks.

Already, the pooch has uncovered several hidden stashes of drugs in 
vehicles pulled over by police.

"With her, there's a higher probability that we'll discover drugs 
that we would likely not discover otherwise," said Klassen, who notes 
Tika is able to detect 10 different kinds of illegal substances - 
from marijuana to cocaine to heroine - and is trained to sit as soon 
as she finds something suspicious.

Tika will be on duty whenever Klassen is, and the pair have spent the 
last few weeks getting used to one another, Klassen said.

"Part of the training ... is learning to work together as a team, 
myself and the dog, learning to read each other," he said.

This is the Winkler police's second attempt to launch the canine 
unit; last fall, Klassen was paired up with Kenya, a year-old 
chocolate Labrador.

But Kenya's personality proved unsuitable for the job, and she never 
reached certification.

Tiki, on the other hand, received her final police dog certification 
last month, and Klassen expects she'll be with the department for the 
next several years.

"She has great ball drive (her reward for finding something), high 
prey drive," he said, noting those are two key factors in whether a 
police dog will be motivated to do its job.

In addition to sniffing out drugs, Tika will also be a valuable 
public relations tool for the police service, said Klassen.

People are much more likely to come up to chat with officers on the 
street when a police dog is at hand, he said.

The canine unit will also be making stops at local schools later this 
year to speak with kids about the dangers of doing drugs, Klassen said.
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