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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UAPD K-9s sniff out campus crimes

    Michael, a Labrador trained to sniff out explosives, sits in front of officer Kyle Morrison yesterday afternoon at the University of Arizona Police Department.
    Michael, a Labrador trained to sniff out explosives, sits in front of officer Kyle Morrison yesterday afternoon at the University of Arizona Police Department.

    Michael and Jessy are two important, dedicated members of the University of Arizona Police Department – who sniff out crime on all fours.

    That’s because Michael, a 4-year-old black Labrador retriever, and Jessy, a 2-year-old German shepherd, are two of the five active service dogs that belong to the UAPD. Three dogs work with officers on Mount Graham.

    The five dogs and their handlers are certified in areas such as bomb detection, drug detection and patrol assistance. In addition to assisting UAPD officers, K-9 units assist outside agencies such as the Tucson Police Department, U.S. Customs and the Department of Public Safety.

    Michael and officer Kyle Morrison are a K-9 explosive-detection team and work as part of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms canine explosive-detection program.

    The pairing of Morrison and Michael in 2004 set a precedent for other universities in the country.

    UAPD was the first university police department in the nation to receive an explosive-detection canine from the ATF, Morrison said.

    Morrison, who went to Virginia to meet Michael, said he trained the canine for 10 weeks before returning back to Tucson with the dog.

    Morrison said he and Michael complete training on a daily basis that can sometimes take up half the day.

    “”We will set up a scenario in which there is some kind of search, whether it be in a building, car or stadium, and once Michael alerts us to the target scent, he is rewarded with food,”” Morrison said. “”By rewarding Michael with food after he alerts to the scent, he learns the odors quickly, but it is still labor-intensive.””

    Michael can detect up to 19,000 types of explosives through scent recognition, according to the UAPD Web site.

    Morrison and Michael can be found patrolling theUA area conducting building and special checks on the campus and working a number of special events, including football and basketball games, dignitary protection and demonstrations for the UA and Tucson communities.

    Michael’s abilities allow him to travel with Morrison to large events that require increased security, Morrison said.

    In the past year, Michael has worked events including the Rose Bowl in California and a Nascar event in Las Vegas.

    “”We usually take two to four trips per year when Michael’s services are needed,”” Morrison said.

    Michael has recently been awarded best explosive-detection canine in the Tucson Area Canine Trials, which involved 22 of the best explosive-detection dogs from around the country, Morrison said.

    Jessy and officer Dennis Maciborski comprise the narcotics K-9 unit for the UAPD.

    Maciborski received Jessy from the ATF six months ago and generally works with off-campus narcotics.

    Maciborski said he puts Jessy through a rigorous training procedure similar to Michael’s.

    “”The National Police Canine Association requires that we certify the dogs weekly and spend at least four hours per week completing training,”” Maciborski said.

    Real narcotics are used during the training procedures, Maciborski said.

    “”Instead of using a food-reward system during training like Michael and officer Morrison do, I reward Jessy with a favorite toy when she alerts,”” Maciborski said. “”Although we do not train on a daily basis, I make Jessy work hard.””

    Jessy’s efforts can be seen in the enormous amount of narcotics that has been recovered by the department, Maciborski said.

    “”Since I have been paired with Jessy, we have recovered over 4,000 pounds of marijuana,”” Maciborski said. “”My previous dog of three years and I recovered over 20,000 pounds of marijuana, one pound of heroin, 10 ounces of meth and $1.7 million.””

    When not keeping the campus and community safe with their partners, Michael and Jessy live in the UAPD officers’ homes.

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