The Hamilton Police Department will have its first dog on duty in five years starting in early May.
The vice unit will receive a two-year-old Malinois, currently named “Flash,” to be cross-trained as a drug and patrol dog. Flash was selected from Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Ind., a national explosive and narcotics detection dog specialist kennel, whose dogs work with police departments and military personnel across the country.
Flash was bought with drug forfeiture money, according to Hamilton Police Sergeant Ed Buns, because of their very active vice unit.
“When you make arrests or drug investigations, that gives us money to use for future drug and vice investigations,” he said.
No money is coming out of the city’s general fund, Buns said.
“This dog is being paid for by the drug dealers,” he said.
Hamilton hasn’t had a working police dog in about five years due to monetary issues and a bit of a past history, according to Buns.
“We wanted to make sure that before we took the expense, we took the time to know how the dog was trained to make sure it best suited our needs,” Buns said.
A cross-trained dog is new for the department, which historically has had separate dogs for patrol and drug investigations. Flash’s officer counterpart, Casey Johnson, is currently assigned to the neighborhood policing unit, and having Flash cross-trained will be a better use of the officer’s and the department’s time because dogs are better suited for searches. While the unit is responsive to neighborhood problems all over the city, Officer Johnson and Flash will focus on areas the department has identified as problem areas.
Flash and Johnson began training together at Vohne Liche this week, and should graduate in six weeks.
“Canines have to be certified by the Ohio Police Officers Training Council, just like an officer, and then when he graduates, he’ll go straight to work,” Buns said.
The department says that having a dog on duty will allow them to provide better service internally without having to request help from outside agencies.
“Progressive departments want to have these services available, not only to our citizens, but to our officers,” Buns said.
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