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He’s called Officer Cody: Three-year-old Belgian Malinois is Huron’s first K-9 cop

Posted: Friday, Nov 30th, 2012

In a media demonstration, K-9 Officer Derek Layher shows how he has been trained to work with Officer Cody for the animal to detect suspected narcotics in vehicles. In the next photo are Officers Layher and Cody. PHOTOS BY ROGER LARSEN/PLAINSMAN

HURON — He loves to play, but he’s all business when K-9 Officer Derek Layher presses him into service when officers suspect the presence of illegal drugs.

Just hours into his new role with the Huron Police Department, Officer Cody began paying dividends on a traffic stop.

“On the stop, he did ‘indicate’ to the front passenger side door,” Layher said. “Upon search of the vehicle, we did not locate any actual narcotics, however, the occupants did admit to possessing marijuana earlier in the day.”

The search also turned up a piece of paper detailing what it takes to run a marijuana growing operation.

Cody’s journey to Huron began in a foreign country. Born in Holland, the Belgian Malinois was purchased by the folks at the Kasseburg Canine Training Center in New Market, Ala. He turns three at the end of January.

“When we got him in September, he had only been in the country for about 10 days,” Layher said Wednesday at Cody’s introduction to the local media.

Layher put Cody through his paces, and he came through. He quickly alerted on illegal drugs police had hidden in a room at City Hall.

But he also did well in a training session at the high school. Classes went on as usual but with no lockdown as Cody was asked to find drugs the police hid in empty, unassigned lockers in one hallway.

“He found it every time,” Layher said.

When they approved a request for a K-9 drug dog in the police department, city commissioners authorized the expenditure of $10,000 in second penny city sales tax revenues to purchase an animal. As it turned out, Kasseburg gave the city a deal and only charged $6,000.

The city is prohibited from tapping the sales tax source for other expenses involved in the K-9 program, so a fundraising effort was launched.

It turned out to be quite successful.

Leadership Huron’s 2012 class raised $16,000, and there were many donations from private individuals, businesses and service organizations.

“We’ve had a lot of community support and that’s what’s basically keeping the program running,” said Police Chief Gary Will Jr.

Layher and Cody spent seven weeks in Pierre for hands-on training and certification.

The K-9 can detect the presence of marijuana, cocaine, heroine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and mushrooms.

When he’s not on duty with Layher, the animal and human officers will remain together at home. On their off days, they will be available for calls from another shift if needed at traffic stops or the execution of search warrants.

“We’ve also extended that service out to surrounding agencies and counties,” Layher said.

Both animal and handler will show up from time to time to conduct surprise searches at the schools, something they’ve done in the past with a Highway Patrol dog.

“At this point, I can’t say if it’s going to increase the number of searches we do or if we’re going to do them the same way,” Layher said. “I don’t think that’s been discussed yet.”

Law enforcement officers don’t have traditional offices per se, but consider their cars to fulfill that role. It will be no different for the newest addition to the department.

In anticipation of Officer Cody’s arrival, the prisoner transport cage was removed from one police car, and his name was added to the outside of the vehicle for the public to see.

“The entire back seat is a kennel for the dog,” Layher said.

Cody not only has his own office space, but a spill-proof water dish for those long days on duty.

For his comfort, there is also a monitoring system in place to control the temperature.

While he’s a valuable member of the team, Cody won’t be sent in on every play.

“He’s not going to be out on everything we do,” Layher said. “We’re not going to run him around every vehicle we stop.

“He’s a tool we can use to help us detect narcotics in vehicles or during search warrants of houses,” he said.

Cody joins about 30 other K-9 drug dogs working shifts in different local and state law enforcement agencies across South Dakota.

He’s new on the job, but already off to a good start.

“I believe it will be a great deterrent and hopefully help with the issues we have in town,” Layher said.

For the complete article see the 11-29-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-29-2012 paper.

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