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Officer Cody now making the rounds

Posted: Friday, Jan 18th, 2013

HURON – The city’s latest weapon in the fight against narcotics is getting used to his new environment and meeting new people.

Officer Cody, a three-year-old Belgian Malinois, is a member of the Huron Police Department. Earlier this week, he demonstrated his drug detection training at a meeting of the Beadle County Republican Women.

The K-9 was purchased and trained through a combination of city and community contributions last fall. He can sniff out marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and Psilocybin mushrooms.

His handler, Officer Derek Layher, said when Cody recognizes one or more of the six odors, he sits and stares, his tail swiftly wagging back and forth. He sometimes drools in his excitement as well.

Now 70 pounds, he is tall and muscular, far from the 55-pound, skinny dog he was when he arrived in Huron.

As long as he stays healthy, Cody is expected to serve the community for the next eight years.

As a member of the police force, he is also protected by new laws that make it illegal to harm him or attempt to hurt him.

“They’re expensive, they require a lot of training, a lot of upkeep, a lot of work goes into these guys,” Layher said.

Cody’s office is a dog kennel built into the back seat of Layher’s patrol car.

Only a few months on the job, he has already begun to pay dividends.

He has detected drugs at the high school and in vehicle stops. When in the presence of what appeared to be a marijuana pipe in a residence, he ignored it. But he was doing his job because it turned out to be a tobacco pipe.

The purchase price was $6,000, but with the lengthy training involved the total replacement cost would be double that.

“They’re expensive, but worth it,” Layher said. “They obviously help a lot and our town is not the way it used to be.

“Obviously, drugs are becoming a major issue more and more every day,” he said.

The training taught Cody how to detect Psilocybin mushrooms. At the time, Layher questioned why that was necessary, thinking illegal mushrooms weren’t a problem in Huron.

But when he and Cody came back from Pierre one weekend, he learned police had pulled a plastic tote out of a house where an individual was growing mushrooms in a closet.

Cody’s services have been offered to surrounding law enforcement agencies. Jerauld and Spink counties have K-9s of their own.

When their shift is over, handler and K-9 go home to the Layher house, but are subject to call.

After his police service is over in about eight years, Cody will become a permanent member of the household. Some handlers keep the dogs, others give them away.

“I can’t imagine giving away a dog you’ve spent all this time with,” Layher said. “Any time I look behind me in the car, there he stands.

“He’s there every day, he goes home with me, a lot of training is involved, a lot of time,” he said.

In addition to K-9s owned by cities and counties in the state, the Highway Patrol has 13. Some dogs are trained to detect arson or explosives.

Before Layher was chosen to be the police department’s K-9 handler, others also applied.

Most cities the size of Huron would prefer to have two dogs on duty, and that’s possible here.

“I think over time – as long as everything goes well, which it has been so far – I think we would go with adding a second,” Layher said.

“Obviously, we have the officers interested in it,” he said. “Definitely a possibility.”

For the complete article see the 01-17-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 01-17-2013 paper.

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