Dogs will investigate drug crimes

by: OREGON STATE POLICE - Thunder, left, and Hank are the newest additions to the Oregon State Police Department.Oregon State Police recently welcomed two new members to the department when Hank and Thunder — trained drug detection canines — completed training and jumped into their patrol vehicles eager to hit the road.

With these new additions, OSP now has 10 trained drug detection canines working around the state to assist OSP and other law enforcement agencies investigating drug crimes.

Hank, a 23-month old yellow Labrador, and Thunder, a 17-month old black Labrador, join eight other OSP drug detection canines and are assigned at OSP offices in central and eastern Oregon, respectively. To maximize their effectiveness, the dogs are placed with their specially trained troopers at strategically selected OSP office locations.

“The OSP drug detection canine program plays an important role in finding illegal drugs and related evidence on our highways and in local communities. They are an important partner for our department and public safety partners on and off the road,” said Sgt. David Beck, OSP drug detection canine program coordinator who has worked with dogs for more than 20 years.

During 2011, eight OSP drug detection canines and their handlers were involved in law enforcement contacts resulting in the seizure of:

  • More than 600 pounds of marijuana;
  • 84 pounds of methamphetamine;
  • 58 pounds of cocaine;
  • More than 8 pounds of heroin;
  • 6 pounds of psilocybin mushrooms;
  • Other evidence and illegal proceeds related to drug crimes.
  • The dogs’ training includes an intensive two-week OSP drug detection handler course and certification process designed to detect odors from controlled substances including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.

    The majority of searches involving OSP drug detection canines occur along the highway during vehicle stops when couriers try to conceal drugs and other evidence to avoid discovery.

    “The dogs’ keen sense of smell is far superior to that of any person, making the dogs an invaluable resource when searching vehicles, buildings, storage facilities, luggage and other environments,” Beck said.

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