Sheriff requests drug sniffing dog

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 4, 1999

Thursday, November 04, 1999

Mower County Sheriff Barry J. Simonson invited the commissioners to a demonstration of a drug sniffing dog.

Simonson is seeking $6,000 in his budget for 2000 to add a "passive alert dog" to the sheriff’s department’s crime-fighting efforts.

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Officer Rich Koop of the Winona Police Department brought his canine partner, Jake, to the law enforcement center’s training room for the demonstration.

The dog is trained to detect six drugs, marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, opium and methamphetamine.

The Austin Police Department has two canine units: one for drug searches and the other for apprehension and rescue.

Simonson said afterwards, "We think we’re missing drugs at traffic stops and during searches of vehicles and buildings."

If the monies are approved by the county board, an officer from within the sheriff’s department would be selected to be the canine handler and go through extensive training with the dog.

The sheriff called a drug-sniffing dog an "interesting tool" in crime-fighting.

The term "passive alert" refers to how the canine unit detects illegal drugs and then quietly signals where the contraband is located to its officer.

Discoveries made by the canine unit and its handler are admissable evidence in court, according to the Winona police officer.

Also, Simonson said the "dog pays for itself" in both the successful discovery of illegal drugs and the seizures of property resulting from drug arrests.

Koop and his dog, Jake, a Labrador retriever, went through their paces in the demonstration and answered questions of county officials and other interested peace officers.