State Patrol Introduces New Class of K9s
The State Patrol’s newest team of police K9s will soon be in the line of duty. Charly, Robie, Alex, Joni, Tajga and Bolo were introduced in Golden Valley after being brought over from Europe.
“Most of the dogs that we select are between 14 to 16 months old,” said Sgt. Chad Mills, K9 coordinator for the Minnesota State Patrol. “The reason we look for that age is it’s kind of the puppy stage. Once they’re beyond that puppy stage it’s a little easier for their learning and training.”
The State Patrol seeks to work with breeds with keen detection skills. This particular group will specialize in narcotics detection.
Among the new class of dogs are a German wirehaired pointer, Belgian Malinois and a Hungarian Vizsla. Most K9s will retire after 10 years of service. Once retired, K9s will often go home and live with the family of their handler.
There are currently 15 K9s working with the State Patrol across Minnesota. Among them is a single explosives detection dog at the state Capitol. The new recruits focus on narcotics detection, mainly during traffic stops, and not for apprehending suspects.
“The dogs have been very valuable as far as intercepting fentanyl, heroin, [and] other drugs that are destined for other communities,” Sgt. Mills said. “I think that without the dogs I don’t think we’d be as proficient in finding stuff. The dogs can sniff through pretty much everything.”
The State Patrol deployed the K9s 118 times this year through Sept. 30. Forty-nine of those deployments used to aid the work of other law enforcement agencies. Their work resulted in the seizure of 270 pounds of marijuana, 71 pounds of meth, more than 50 pounds of cocaine and roughly 45,000 fentanyl pills.
The new batch of K9s demonstrated their skills on Tuesday morning as they quickly sniffed out an undisclosed amount of cocaine hidden in a box. Different items such as food and toys in several boxes to distract the dogs from finding the planted drugs. After the K9s discovered the drugs, the animals quickly received a toy to reinforce the reward following the odor.
Not Trained for Marijuana Detection
The new class of K9s will not be trained to find cannabis as recreational marijuana has become legal in Minnesota. This is something that the State Patrol anticipated years ago and began to phase out with their previous dogs.
“Our agency decided back in 2018 just to be kind of proactive with our new dogs so we weren’t imprinting on marijuana or cannabis for that reason,” said Mills.
Abdi Mohamed, reporting