New Narcotics Dog Patrols Stadium
Trained canines and their handlers play a major role in the procedures UAPD uses to deal with narcotics crime.
Dingo, the newest canine member of the force, has been the UA narcotics dog for one year. Dingo is trained to detect substances such as heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and any derivative thereof, said Corporal Jeff Shetlar.
The narcotics dog is used mainly for traffic stops, not to patrol dorms, Shetlar said. Handlers train detector dogs to sniff the air around a vehicle. If the canine detects anything suspicious in the air around the vehicle, this is considered probable cause to search the vehicle.
The UAPD handles two explosive detecting canines and one narcotics canine. Each dog has a different patrol shift and is transported by the handler using the UAPD canine vehicle.
The canine vehicle is unlike other police cars in that it has a special temperature gauge, protecting the dogs from the extreme heat of the summer, Shetlar said. In addition, there is also a special device programmed to roll down the rear window in emergency situations, allowing the dogs jump out and run to the aid of an officer in trouble.
Handlers take an intensive two-week course, usually consisting of at least 14 hour days, and training does not end there. It takes about a year for a handler and a dog to really bond, Shetlar said. The dog needs to understand what the handler wants, just as the handler has to learn to read the dog’s body language and signals.
All three canines handled by the UAPD are passive alert, meaning the dogs are trained to stop and stare, rather than scratch and bark, at the location of suspicious odors, Shetlar said. However, these dogs are trained to bite, if given the command.
While the UAPD made 11 alcohol related arrests Sept. 1, the day of the Razorback’s first home game, there were no drug related arrests made that day.
Concerning the upcoming Alabama football game, the UAPD does not expect to have any more criminal problems than usual, Shetlar said.
Although a majority of game day arrests relate to alcohol, UAPD takes necessary precautions by patrolling with the narcotics canine the night before, the night of and the night after Razorback football games.