Puppy police officer: Craig’s newest canine crimefighter will hit streets next year | CraigDailyPress.com

Puppy police officer: Craig’s newest canine crimefighter will hit streets next year

Craig Police Department Corporal Grant Laehr holds Bane, CPD's new 8-week-old German shepherd Monday, July 29.
Clay Thorp/Craig Press

The Craig Police Department is training a new member of the force — one slightly more hairy and with more teeth than your average police officer.

Craig Police Department Corporal Grant Laehr holds Bane, CPD’s new 8-week-old German Shepherd Monday, July 29.
Clay Thorp/Craig Press

Yesko Bane aka “Bane” is CPD’s new K9, an 8-week-old German shepherd, who will begin his training with Cpl. Grant Laehr under the direction of Moffat County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sgt. Courtland Folks for deployment on the streets of Craig sometime in the first half of 2020.

Cpl. Grant Laehr and the Craig Police Department’s new 8-week-old K9, Bane, pose in front of the Public Safety Center Monday, July 29.
Clay Thorp/Craig Press

“We work hand in hand together,” Folks said of MCSO’s K9 partnership with CPD. “We’re all here together as a team.”

From left, Deputy Nate Baker with Odin, Cpl. Grant Laehr with Bane, and Deputy Sgt. Courtland Folks with Kilo all pose in front of the Public Safety Center Monday, July 29.
Clay Thorp/Craig Press

Folks has been influential in the county’s and city’s drug interdiction efforts in recent years, having trained and retired several drug detection dogs for CPD and MCSO — like Kilo, Fury, and Thunder. He said Bane’s curriculum will consist of months of training with controlled substance-scented toys and positive reinforcement that will end with Bane being able to easily detect most street drugs — cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and ecstasy.

Moffat County Sheriff’s Deputy Nate Baker handles Top Guns Narco Nightmare Odin otherwise known as Odin the police K9 Monday, July 30.
Clay Thorp/Craig Press

“The concept is fairly simple — you find the odor, you get rewarded,” Folks said of Bane’s coming training.

But distractions are also important for Bane to overcome — non-suspect civilians, a world full of smells from an endless number of sources, some of them other animals.

“It’s all about socialization,” Folks said.

That reason is partly why Bane will be living with Laehr and his family.

“It’s a lifestyle change,” Laehr said. “This animal is coming home with us, so when we’re off duty, we’re in charge of exercising the dog and everything else.”

Laehr said his family knows Bane is a working dog, but they’re nonetheless happy to house Craig’s new K9.

“They’re excited,” Laehr said of his family getting their own live-in police dog.

Craig Police Department Corporal Grant Laehr and his family meet Bane, CPD’s 8-week-old police K9 Monday, July 29. Craig’s new police K9 will be a live-in member of Laehr’s family.
Clay Thorp/Craig Press

Bane will be special in another key way — he’ll be Craig’s first police dog to not be trained to alert to marijuana. Leaving marijuana out of Bane’s training was likely a result of a Craig case that was appealed all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court involving Folk’s recently retired dog, Kilo. In May, the court came down with a decision that police must have more probable cause to search a vehicle if they’re using a dog trained to alert to marijuana.

Kilo, Moffat County Sheriff’s Office’s recently retired police K9, hangs out with Deputy Sgt. Courtland Folks Monday, July 29.
Clay Thorp/Craig Press

“We hold that a sniff from a drug-detection dog that is trained to alert to marijuana constitutes a search … of the Colorado Constitution because that sniff can detect lawful activity, namely the legal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older,” the court’s ruling said. “We further hold that, in Colorado, law enforcement officers must have probable cause to believe that an item or area contains a drug in violation of state law before deploying a drug-detection dog that alerts to marijuana for an exploratory sniff.”

Kilo, Moffat County Sheriff’s Office’s recently retired police K9, hangs out with Deputy Sgt. Courtland Folks Monday, July 29.
Clay Thorp/Craig Press

With the Supreme Court decision behind them, Folks said he and other K9 handlers in the area still have a job to do — detaining combatant suspects, drug interdiction at traffic stops, maybe the occasional building search using their highly trained K9s.

Kilo, Moffat County Sheriff’s Office’s recently retired police K9, gets some belly rubs from Deputy Sgt. Courtland Folks Monday, July 29.
Clay Thorp/Craig Press

“The strategies for the most part are the same,” Folks said.

What’s clear is MCSO and CPD’s K9s have more than enough energy to do the job. All three dogs couldn’t wait to mix things up Monday as their handlers shouted commands and the dogs obeyed.

Deputy Sgt. Courtland Folks handles Kilo, Moffat County’s recently retired K9, as the next generation of police K9, Bane, looks on Monday, July 29.
Clay Thorp/Craig Press

Deputy Nate Baker said their K9, Odin, is still an energetic teenager, so it’s important to remember a few things if you see any officer and their K9 out in public.

“Don’t immediately approach the dog or the handler,” Baker said. “…from a distance, ask the handler if it’s OK for you to approach. If it is OK to approach, follow the directions of the handler.”

Odin, a Belgian malinois, could hardly contain his excitement as Baker stroked the dog gently to calm him. As Odin is trained to detain suspects who may be resisting arrest, Baker said it’s important for dog lovers to keep their distance and not overly stress their working police dogs if they happen upon them in public.

Moffat County Sheriff’s Deputy Nate Baker handles Top Guns Narco Nightmare Odin otherwise known as Odin the police K9 Monday, July 30.
Clay Thorp/Craig Press

“The handler knows the dog better than anyone else,” Baker said. “We know the dog and their behavior and the environment they’re in… The situation could be too stressful for that dog and we don’t want to over-stress the dog.” 




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