Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

September 3, 2013

BCDC adds drug-sniffing, tracking dog

By KENNETH HART
Richmond Register

CATLETTSBURG — The Boyd County Detention Center has added a new four-legged member to its staff.

Cole, an 18-month-old drug-sniffing and tracking Belgian Malinois, was purchased in July by the jail from Tactical Detection K9 of Louisville.

According to Jailer Joe Burchett, the addition makes the BCDC one of only two county jails in the state with a drug detection and tracking dog.

Burchett also noted that although the dog’s purchase price and the cost of training its handler totaled $4,200, it didn’t cost taxpayers a cent. Securus Technologies, the jail’s inmate telephone service provider, footed the entire bill, he said.

Burchett said the decision to purchase the dog was motivated in large part by a recent dramatic increase in arrests for heroin and methamphetamine possession, and by a spike in the number of  prisoners attempting to smuggle narcotics into the lockup.

While having a drug-sniffing dog doesn’t replace the need for thorough contraband searches, “it does provide us with another tool to top illegal drugs from entering our facility,” Burchett said.

Cole is a “passive detection” dog and is trained to sniff out several illegal drugs and commonly abused prescription narcotics, Burchett said. The animal also is trained in tracking, meaning he can assist in searches for missing persons, fugitives and jail escapees, he said.

Cole’s handler, Chief Deputy Jailer Tom Jurta, attended a six-training course in Oldham County. The program included classroom sessions, hands-on searches in real-life scenarios and a certification test held to U.S. Police Canine Association Standards.

Areas searched during the training included the North Oldham County Fire Department Training Center, North Oldham Middle School and the Oldham County Detention Center. Numerous vehicle searches also were conducted, on parked cars and during simulated traffic stops, Burchett said.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.