Law enforcement K9s and their handlers honed their skills Tuesday as the National Narcotics Dog Detector Association (NNDDA) held an annual certification exercise in Bulloch County.
Several K9 teams gathered at Connections Church on Cawana Road Tuesday morning for the narcotics testing, then moved to the WW. Mann Retreat Center in Brooklet Tuesday afternoon for the patrol/bite work session, said Bulloch County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kirk McGlamery, who handles the department’s K9 Max, a German Shepherd.
Hosted by the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office and sponsored by Franklin Chevrolet, the certification exercise is in its second year in Bulloch County, he said. “The cost – around $1,500 – is completely taken care of by Mr. Robbie Franklin and is no cost at all to taxpayers.”
According to a Supreme Court ruling, narcotics dogs must be recertified annually, he said. They train on marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and MDMA, or Ecstasy. The Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office used to train with the Chatham County Sheriff’s Department but last year, hosted the first annual NNDDA event in Bulloch County, he said.
Along with McGlamery and Max, the Bulloch County K9 teams Cpl. Mark Guarino and Gismo, a Belgian Malinois, and Deputy Ryan Norton and his Dutch Shepherd Dutch, all passed the narcotics course as well as the patrol/obedience/bite work course, he said.
The Statesboro Police Department team – Advanced Patrol Officer Kyle Briley and his dog, a German Shepherd named Rio, also aced the exams. Other area teams that participated were from the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police. Savannah-Chatham Narcotics Team, Bluffton, SC Police ans Rincon Police, he said.
Georgia Southern University Police also has a K9 officer, but Deimos, a Dutch Shepherd handled by Officer Erk McCurdy, is cert7ified in bomb detection only and does not have to certify with narcotics detection in the NNDDA event, he said.
In addition to detecting narcotics, many of the law enforcement K9s are dual-purpose, meaning they are used in apprehending and locating suspects, too, McGlamery said.
In what is called “bite work,” a suspect may indeed be bitten by a dog if he does not comply with officers’ orders. The dual-purpose dogs trained in patrol and bite work are taught to follow orders, and if a command for a K9 to go after a suspect causes the offender to obey, the handler can call the dog back before his teeth come into play.
However, if a suspect continues to flee, the dogs are trained to catch and hold, and bites may be necessary, he said.
The day was successful, with everyone achieving certification, McGlamery said.
The NNDDAA was founded in 1978, according to the organization’s Facebook page.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489 9414.