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K-9 sniffing out drugs

DRUGS FOUND – Humboldt Police Department K-9 officer Matt Cox keeps Roxie the drug dog on a leash (upper photo) as she sniffs out drugs. The drugs were planted as part of a demonstration for Humboldt Rotarians last Friday. Once Roxie finds drugs she sits at attention, facing her handler. The two-year-old German Shepherd has been part of the Humboldt Police Department for several months now.

by Danny Wade

When Roxie the drug dog sits down on the job, one may think they’ve gotten away with hiding their drugs—they would be wrong. When Roxie sits, that is her way to alert that drugs are present.

Last Friday, Humboldt Police Department K-9 Unit’s Matt Cox, and Sgt. Heath Smith demonstrated just how effective a drug dog can be when they visited with Humboldt Rotarians.

Cox is Roxie’s handler. The two-year-old German Shepherd lives with Cox and stays with him 24 hours a day.

During the demonstration, the officers had hidden drugs in a location unknown to Roxie. Cox keeps Roxie’s play toy, a canvas bite or tug toy she fetches and plays tug-a-war with. Playing with the toy is Roxie’s reward when she sniffs out drugs.

As Cox led Roxie on leash around the room, everything was fun and games to her. That was until she got a scent of drugs.

When she got that scent, Sgt. Smith told those watching the demonstration to notice how Roxie began breathing through her nose, her mouth closed and started search for the drugs. Within seconds she had located the area where the drugs were hidden. That’s when Roxie sat and looked right at Cox.

Cox said this is how Roxie lets police know there are drugs. Although Roxie does not pinpoint the exact location, the drugs will be within a few feet.

Cox and Smith explained that drugs are not always found when she catches the scent. The scent of drugs can remain in the area for days after the drugs are moved.

Roxie has been trained to find what Cox called the “big four”, cocaine, heroin, meth and marijuana.

Smith explained how police dogs can be singular task or multi-task K-9s trained in more than one category. Roxie is a singular task dog, only trained to find drugs. Other dogs can be trained as cadaver dogs to find people who may be dead or badly injured. Another is a tracker used to find criminals or track someone who is lost. The other type training is an attack or bite dog. These dogs are aggressive and vicious.

With Roxie on the HPD force, Cox said he would estimate she’s found drugs 90-percent of the time she’s alerted. The other times, when drugs were not found, the scent of drugs was still there but the drugs were no longer located there.

Smith noted that often times when a person is pulled over and asked if there are drugs present, they will tell police where the drugs are, knowing if they lie or try to hide them, Roxie will find them.

The Humboldt Police Department is grateful to have their K-9 Unit as another means to fight crime and make Humboldt a safer place to live.

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