Drug-sniffing pooch joins the
Story and photos by Lily Leung, The Arizona Republic,
January 29, 2008
Walk toward Cisco and he will likely nuzzle against your leg
and playfully lick your palms. But as Youngtown Police Chief
Dan Connelly puts it, the agency's narcotics dog "throws
people completely off guard." His affable exterior belies
his fierce instinct to search, specifically for drugs -
marijuana, heroine, methamphetamine and cocaine.
Since joining the Police Department in late February, the
golden retriever's skills have led Youngtown police to 30
drug-related arrests and close to $11,000 in stolen goods
and cash, said his handler, Youngtown police Sgt. David
Although Youngtown boasts only 14 police officers and a
small budget, Evans felt strongly about getting a
drug-sniffing canine aboard.
Having Cisco especially helps with traffic stops along Grand
Avenue, a major thoroughfare for drug trafficking. Narcotics
dogs are also known for their speed: Where it would take
police officers 20 to 30 minutes to search a car for drugs,
it takes a trained pooch three to five minutes, Evans
"I thought, 'If I can get a dog, and you turn me loose (with
him), we can make a difference'," said Evans, who has had an
extensive history working undercover drug busts in the
Connelly said the problem with getting a drug-sniffing dog
was money. The City Council didn't have a budget set aside
for a narcotics dog.
As a result, the year-and-a-half old golden retriever was
partially paid for by money impounded from criminal
enterprises through the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations act, also known as RICO.
It cost $6,000 to train Evans and his canine partner. That
amount did not cover food, his leash and other accessories.
Connelly said the Police Department was fortunate enough to
get an "outpouring of support" from local homeowners
associations, which discovered the agency was trying to
acquire a narcotics dog.
Agua Fria Ranch's HOA gave $2,500, while Spanish Gardens'
HOA came up with $1,500, he said.
With that money, police were able to purchase him from
Waddell Kennels, which provides drug-sniffing dogs.
The business has trained narcotics dogs for the Mesa Police
Department, the Wickenburg Police Department, the Maricopa
County Sheriff's Office, Pinal County Sheriff's Department
and the Corrections Corporation of America.
Cisco spent four months earning his National Narcotics
Detection Dog Association certification.
"The great thing is, it didn't cost the city anything,"
Two weeks into the job, Cisco made his first bust when he
found an ounce of methamphetamine, two ounces of cocaine and
$600 in $20 bills, Evans said. In another case, his nose for
drugs led police to $4,000 in drug money, which was poured
back into the department's RICO account, allowing police to
buy guns and other necessities.
"We see drug-sniffing dogs as a luxury," Connelly said. "But
in these days, it's almost a necessity."
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