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COUNTY K9

Deputy and dog team is the first for Crook County

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Deputy Brad Wright, Sheriff Rodd Clark and Dar, the county’s new German shepherd are shown at the academy.

The Crook County Sheriff's Office will have a better chance at catching the bad guys and finding lost hikers and others, thanks to a new K-9 unit.
   On March 14, Crook County Sheriff's Office Deputy Brad Wright graduated from the West Metro K-9 Academy, which is in Washington County. Sgt. Russ Wright, who is Brad's uncle, said the academy consists of all of Washington County and the Portland Police Bureau.
   "And he will now be patrolling Crook County," Russ Wright said, adding that Deputy Wright's vehicle has "K-9" marked on the side. Six officers participated in the class.
   Deputy Wright will work with Dar, who is a male German shepherd.
   Currently, if the Crook County Sheriff's Office receives a call in which a police dog is needed, office personnel must call either the Redmond Police Department, Bend police or the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office to use one of their K-9 units.
   This creates a delay for the Crook County Sheriff's Office and he said time is of the essence. The quicker an officer gets to the scene with a dog, the quicker the scent can be obtained.
   The dog came to the sheriff's office from a company in California, Adlerhorst International, Inc. Dar costs $5,000 and he was purchased through a grant. The dogs are purchased in Europe and then shipped to the United States.
   Wright said his nephew participated in the 10-week intensive training "10 hours a day, five days a week."
   "I went through the same program in 1979," Wright said. "In fact, it was just starting in 1979."
   Sgt. Bruce Kelly from the Hillsboro Police Department runs the academy with assistance from Bruce Combs from the Portland Police Bureau and Sgt. Shawn Bailey of the Washington County Sheriff's Office. Wright said the training works.
   "It's been a proven training program for the last 28 years," he said.
   "What they work on the most is your tracking ability," Wright said. This is online tracking with a 20-foot lead for the dog. The dog is also trained to protect his deputy.
   "And the car is equipped with what we call a door popper," Wright said, adding that the dog can exit out of the back of the vehicle if need be. The rear door pops open and the dog can exit when the deputy pushes a remote control device.
   Initially, Dar will help locate missing hikers and others, but there are changes in the works.
   "We're looking in the next year or two that he would be cross trained for narcotics tracking," Wright said, adding that a canine has 1,000 to a million times the sense of smell than a human has.
   "Depending obviously on the conditions and the scent," Wright said.
   "Yeah, we use him to help locate missing people, but his main function is catching bad guys," Sgt. Wright said.
   Additionally, Dar is trained to track articles from an incident, such as a crime scene. While Dar is also trained to protect his master, he is also trained in dealing with missing children.
   "In other words, grade school kids would be able to lay on him and play with him," Wright said.
   The dog is also trained in what is called "harass and delay" in apprehending a suspect.
   "When they find someone, they are trained to harass and delay," Wright said. He added that as long as the suspect does not try to injure the dog or officer, the animal will not try to attack the suspect.
   Wright was proud of his nephew and his graduation.
   "He's given 100 percent to the success of the program," Wright said. He added that Wright is involved in a training program with other officers for what is called perimeter containment. This is when police make sure an area is contained so that a suspect has a harder time fleeing from police.
   "As his uncle, I'm very proud of what he's been doing and what he's accomplished," Wright said.
   There was no cost to the Crook County Sheriff's Office for sending Deputy Wright to the training. Sgt. Wright said there's a $150 administrative cost, but in the case of Crook County that was waived because this is a brand new program for the county.
   Wright said that before this, the county did not have a K-9 program and he said Sheriff Rodd Clark was supportive of the county's participation. Wright said the sheriff's office has provided the deputy the equipment "but the feeding and so forth is provided by the deputy."
   Wright was pleased with the new K-9 program, saying, "it's one more resource that Crook County law enforcement will have to maintain that high level of law enforcement that Rodd Clark is committed to providing to Crook County citizens."