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Brooksville police want paws in the chase and a nose to sniff out crime

Ray Cassady of 2 Brothers Kennel uses a toy to train Koda, which would be the first of Brooksville’s canine unit if approved.

RON THOMPSON | Times

Ray Cassady of 2 Brothers Kennel uses a toy to train Koda, which would be the first of Brooksville’s canine unit if approved.

BROOKSVILLE — Koda is one 2-year-old no sane person would want in his home.

He's rambunctious, can't keep his nose out of anything and gets so dirty he needs to be cleaned with a hose.

But what else would you expect from a dog?

Some of the same qualities that make Koda a less-than-ideal house pet make him a perfect candidate for police work.

Tonight, Brooksville police Chief George Turner will seek the approval of the Brooksville City Council to launch a canine program he hopes will help curb the spread of drugs in the city.

If the council agrees with Turner, Koda will be the first Brooksville police officer to have the law in his paw.

Turner said Koda would be used in schools and other areas of the city to conduct drug searches, as well as assist in other police work.

If the plan goes through, the police will receive Koda, a Malinois, from a donation by two organizations that jointly own the dog — 2 Brothers Kennel and Secure K-9.

John Gore, owner of 2 Brothers Kennel, said Koda is fit to be a police dog. "This is not the type of dog that an individual would be happy with because he has so much energy," Gore said. "An individual gets this type of dog, before they know it they want to get rid of it."

That energy is good for police dogs, especially their intensity and desire to play, which is crucial in police searches. Searches have to be like a game for the dogs, Gore said, or else they won't do a good job.

The dog's donation will help offset what Turner anticipates will be about $7,000 in program startup costs. The department will also receive federal and state grants.

The canine unit will still have costs beyond this year, but Turner said he hopes to pay for those with revenue from the additional drug busts Koda would help make.

"It's not free," Turner said, "but it's very cost-efficient."

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office has a canine unit and uses it to search for drugs and criminals and for officer protection. "Their swiftness of foot is greater than many, if not all, fleeing felons that are on foot," said Sgt. Donna Black, spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office.

Black said the Sheriff's Office has used its canine unit to assist Brooksville police in some of its investigations.

If the council approves the program, Turner said, the next steps are to select an officer to handle the dog and train the two.

Turner said he has already received applications from officers to handle the dog.

"Selection of the handler is important," Turner said. "It's a commitment."

Michael Sanserino can be reached at msanserino@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1430.

Brooksville police want paws in the chase and a nose to sniff out crime 06/01/08 [Last modified: Sunday, June 1, 2008 8:10pm]
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