WA Police training next generation of drug detection dogs in Nollamara

Dog handler, Snr Constable François Bekker with Max. Photo: Martin Kennealey
Dog handler, Snr Constable François Bekker with Max. Photo: Martin Kennealey

THE Department of Communities is partnering with police to assist with canine drug detection training.

Police handlers undertake regular training sessions with their dogs, often seeking vacant homes so canines have to compete with various scents to locate hidden drugs.

The department is helping by linking officers directly to homes that are untenanted and awaiting redevelopment or sale.

Sonic the drug detection dog. Photo: Martin Kennealey

Community News recently attended a training session with members of the WA Police’s Mounted and Canine Operations division at a vacant Nollamara house to watch the teams in action.

The dogs, labrador Sonic and german shepherd Max, relax while senior constables Francois Bekker and Craig Garth and plant small bags of controlled substances in the two units.

They can detect as little as one gram or one pill of drugs.

Dog handler, Snr Constable Craig Garth with Sonic. Photo: Martin Kennealey

Each dog has their own response, either passive or active – Max freezes when he pinpoints the drugs, while Sonic scratches at the spot hiding the stash.

The dogs are eager to get to work and waste no time once inside.

It takes Max just a minute to discover the first planted bag and he is rewarded with a lively game of tug-of-war.

Dog handler, Snr Constable François Bekker with Max.

A bag hidden in a tricky place behind an airconditioner causes some problems for the dogs as the wind blows the scent so the handlers provide a little guidance when needed.

But their sense of smell is unrivalled and mostly they are quick to find the substances, making them invaluable to police.

Their close relationship with their handlers is obvious and the dogs genuinely seem to enjoy the work.

Senior Constable Tom Fergusson said he was grateful for the opportunity to use the homes as more realistic practice scenarios would better equip the canine recruits for detecting drugs.

“It’s really beneficial being able to use these houses for the training as they’re much closer to the real scenarios that we’d come across when doing a raid on a property,” he said.

“You also get the benefit of a high visual police presence at vacant properties that can help to deter criminal action.”

Mirrabooka regional manager John Pynes was pleased the department could assist police in tackling crime.

“We’ve got a very close relationship with the local police on a multitude of issues and I look forward to continuing to work together to provide the best outcomes for the community,” he said.

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