ROCKVILLE– Montgomery County Police have two new crime fighters on their team. And they’re taking a bite out of crime. Literally. Cali and Lila, a shepherd and shepherd mix, are also the latest additions to the department’s K-9 Unit.
The dogs are both around two years old. They will operate like a drug detection team, using their sense of smell to track down weapons that have been fired. “The dogs just recognize that the scent is a signal and they will get a paycheck, and they will offer us a response of some sort,” said Officer Mary Davis, the head trainer of the dogs. The dogs are trained to either sit by the gun, or to poke their noses around the area to alert police officers. They are not trained to pick up the guns because that’s too dangerous, said Davis.
The county decided to add the dogs to the force because officers said guns continue to be a problem in the county. “The ability of finding weapons is a big deal for us in the police community,” said Davis. “The dogs could be an assistance in the sent detecting elements.”
Criminals often hide guns after committing violent acts, police said. Oftentimes, they will throw them away from the scene of the crime, or hide them in a car. In a demonstration, both of the dogs showed off their new skills. Police hid a gun in the weeds of a field. Finding the gun would normally take police a long time. But, in a matter of moments, the dogs found the gun, speeding up the process. Guns are important for investigations because they are often used as evidence, Davis said.
The dogs were also able to quickly find guns hidden in cars, a task Davis said could be one of the most important for the dogs. “We want to create a system where we have probable cause to enter vehicles on search based on [the dogs’] indication.”
It took about eight weeks to train the dogs, both of whom had no skills when they came to the force. Cali and Lila graduated from training on November 1, and already they’re on the trail. “They’re getting worked very hard, and it may even indicate that we need to train more of them because they’ve been called out on numerous occasions,” said Davis.
With the two new dogs, Montgomery County now has 29 dogs on its K-9 Unit.