"Paw"-fficers practice for upcoming K9 narcotics certification - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

"Paw"-fficers practice for upcoming K9 narcotics certification


WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Some people in Waterloo were a little alarmed Thursday to see several squad cars parked outside Logan Middle School.  After investigating, we found a different story on the scene.  It turns out, Waterloo Police are using the empty middle school to train their four-legged partners.

It may seem a little odd to know the police purposely stashed drugs in a former school. In fact - they had marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and even ecstasy hidden around the building. And it was K9 Officer Spike's mission to track it all down.

"Next week the dogs are all going to get re-certified in narcotics detection. So here we're having narcotics set up in an office area," explained Sgt. Greg Fangman.

Fangman takes the pups through several courses in the building, including classrooms, offices, and hallway training.

"Every now and again we do hide food, the dogs - they're just like a dog at times - they'll simply investigate it like they would at home," he said.

The dogs are trained to search high and low. Usually a dog will either scratch to alert his partner to a drug, or the pup will sit in front of the substance. For this training session, the marijuana was hiding high - in a VCR six feet above the ground. This spot led to some amusing alert signals from the dogs.

"There's nothing for the dog to support themselves, so one dog was up in the air spinning around," said Fangman.

But Spike founds it, no problem. It turns out, the dogs are so smart, it's pretty much a requirement to change locations as often as possible.

"There's a few places we go to where we train frequently. Well, as soon as you pull up the dog knows exactly what's going on and they get excited," noted Fangman.

Changing location also gives the dog training for real-world situations. They're less likely to be nervous when they're used to working in new environments.

After each alert, Spike's reward is a few minutes with his favorite ball. His handler's reward is working with Spike every day.

"A lot of people say, a canine is the best partner to have in police work. Cause they'll do anything for you, and they'll protect you at all costs if needed," Fangman said.

Waterloo Police invite smaller departments to all of their training sessions. The sheriff's deputy from Chickasaw County said he's incredibly grateful for this - he's the only K9 unit in his area, and would not otherwise have easy access to regular training courses.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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