Sedgwick Co. Sheriff’s Office’s newest K9 not trained to detect marijuana – KWCH

November 13, 2022
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – With Missouri voters approving a state amendment allowing recreational marijuana, Kansas now is nearly surrounded by states that have either decriminalized marijuana to some degree or made it legal for recreational or medical use. With that, some law enforcement agencies in the Sunflower State are changing some training strategies.
With the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, this involves its K9s, four-legged officers who serve a dual purpose.
“They’re patrol dogs and they’re also drug detection dogs,” said Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office K-9 handler Deputy Tyler Brooks.
Brooks said the K9s skills has helped in various searches.
“A lot of the times when we are conducting a search based on probable cause gained by the detection of marijuana odor, we may discover other, more violent crimes like gun possession from felons, or things like that,” Brooks said.
But in the last year, the sheriff’s office decided not to train its new K-9, Gator, in marijuana detection.
“We are erring on the side of caution. We don’t know if he tool is still going to be useful to us or not, if something occurs to make marijuana legal in some capacity,” Brooks said.
The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office invests about $30,000 per K-9 on training before they start on patrols. The department’s strategy is to remain cautious on the future of marijuana.
“If something changes within the state during the work life of the dog, it could mean that we have lost an extremely expensive tool and there are so many uncertainties,” Brooks said.
Four of the five K-9s in the unit with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office have been trained in detecting marijuana.
“Marijuana is illegal, just like any other drug, so, it’s still probable cause to perform a search if we locate it,” Brooks explained. “Same way if we found cocaine in plain view or something like that. So, we haven’t really seen a change in operations other than just being preemptive in not training a dog in marijuana in case something changes in the future.”
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