The newest officer with the Pike County Sheriff’s Department has four legs and a tail, and is an expert at getting drugs off the streets.
Bo, the golden Labrador K-9 drug dog, joined the sheriff’s department about a month ago and has already been called into service about 30 times. Sheriff Stephen Korte said the dog will be an important tool in fighting drug use and production in the area.
Deputy Michael Starman was certified recently to handle the dog which is trained to detect marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.
“He will help us find and eliminate narcotics that we wouldn’t find without a dog,” Starman pointed out.
Cpt. Chris Grote, who is also certified to handle K-9 dogs, noted most crime stems from drugs including robbery and theft to purchase or manufacture them and the crimes perpetrated while under the influence.
“We look at having this dog as another tool in our arsenal,” Sheriff Korte said.
Starman explained the dog really is a tool. Unlike a regular pet, Bo spends his day either working with Starman or training with Starman. Bo is currently undergoing training for tracking. This could be beneficial in the event of a lost child or a runaway suspect, etc. Since Bo is a passive dog instead of a “bite” dog, he can be used in cases where the search for a human is needed.
At a year and one-half years-old, Cpt. Grote pointed out that Bo could have a long career aiding the Sheriff’s Department in a number of capacities.
“(Starman) is highly motivated and the dog works hard in training,” Cpt. Grote noted. “The more they train together, the more consistent they will be. They’re progressing rapidly.”
Starman explained that as far is Bo is concerned, finding drugs is like a game. He trains by hunting for a ball that has the drug scent. When he finds the “ball” he scratches at the area. Loveable and full of energy, Bo bounces around Starman’s feet as they “play” with the ball before going on duty.
The Sheriff’s Department was able to obtain a special K-9 patrol car from the Highway Patrol. Sheriff Korte said the vehicle is equipped with a kennel, computerized fan, temperature detectors and remote open. Bo accompanies Starman on every shift.
Sheriff Korte pointed out that despite Bo’s happy, outgoing personality citizens should be cautious around the dog.
“He is a highly-trained tool. He is not like a regular dog. People should treat Bo as they would any police equipment with a ‘hands-off’ approach,” Sheriff Korte said.
This is the first dog the Sheriff’s Department has had since the early 90s. With rural Missouri being among the nation’s leaders in methamphetamine production, Sheriff Korte noted Bo will be invaluable in helping to keep Pike County safe.
“You can’t put a price on it, really. With Bo on the scene, criminals are more reluctant to cause trouble in the course of an investigation,” Cpt. Grote explained.
He added that labradors are natural hunting dogs, so he works a great deal by instinct.
Starman also noted that Bo is treated just like an officer by the State of Missouri. Criminal charges can be filed against anyone who seeks to do harm against the dog.
Cpt. Grote said because of Bo’s pedigree, he could easily work 10 years or more in the field.
“His presence will send a message to those who use or produce drugs in the area,” Cpt. Grote explained. “We’ll be able to step up patrol in areas we know are problematic and around the cooperatives and other places where there is anhydrous ammonia.”
“We’ll be able to be more proactive rather than reactive,” Sheriff Korte added.