Blaine cops need a good nose

Published on Thu, Aug 9, 2001 by K Cunningham

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Blaine cops need a good nose

By K Cunningham

In the near future Blaine Police will have a job opening on the force. The position is not for a human, but for a dog.

The dog and its handler will have a busy job, increasing efficiency at burglary scenes and alarm calls, tracking suspects outdoors, neutralizing armed offenders and ferreting out narcotics. “With the help of the canine, searches of buildings, fields and wooded areas for suspects and objects will become more efficient and effective,” said police Chief Bill Elfo. “The police dog will also reduce dangers to the suspects and police officers.” The dog will also be used in Blaine schools working towards a drug-free campus and to help local employers reduce drug possession in their workplace.

Officer Michael Munden will be the dog handler and the coordinator of the canine project. Munden worked as a dog handler with the Raton Police Department, in New Mexico, for eight years before moving to Blaine in 1999. Munden has been through four hundred hours of canine police work training in Colorado and New Mexico.

The Blaine Police force is hoping to raise $12,500 for the purchase of a professionally trained dog and three to four week training period with the handler and the dog. Once the dog has completed its training, dog and handler have to complete a three to four-week training course to establish a working bond. During the training, the handler will learn the dogs commands and reactions when it finds a trail or narcotics.

While the local Border Patrol dog is just trained in finding narcotics, the police dog will be a dual-purpose dog trained in tracking people, neutralizing suspects as well as finding narcotics, Elfo said. The dog will be fitted with a Kevlar vest if funds are available, to protect it from bullets.

“Dogs are completely loyal and are always in a good mood and have no bad days. The dogs are always excited about going to work. They have more of a bond with you than a human would,” said Munden, who will have full responsibility for the dog, which will live with him and his family.

To raise funds for the program, the department is raffling off a stained glass window with an eagle and a lighthouse that is three feet by four feet donated by the Red Caboose and valued at $3,500. Tickets are two dollars each and can be purchased at Bayside Beauty Salon, where the window is displayed, and the Police Department. The drawing for the window will be October 6. Based on the amount of money raised so far, Blaine police hope to have their canine officer in late August.

Other fund-raisers include a family day at Blaine Marine Park on August 18th and a wine and cheese party and silent auction scheduled for October 16 on the top floor of the Blaine Trade Center. The silent auction will auction off some art items and fine cooking and kitchenware.

Tax deductible donations to the K-9 project can be mailed to the Police Department K-9 Project, 922 H Street. Chief Elfo or Officer Munden can be reached at the Blaine Police Station at 332-6769..

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