K-9 deputies sniff out drugs

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 25, 2005

WINDSOR — The Bertie County Sheriff's Office officially added two new members to their squad here at the Windsor Community Building Thursday.

But these are not your typical run-of-the-mill police officers. These are highly trained search dogs that will aid the sheriff's office immeasurably during their tenure.

The two dogs, Dakota and Buddy, specialize in sniffing out narcotics, but have also been trained for tracking in events such as a missing person.

"These dogs will have a big impact as it adds two more officers," Detective Sergeant Frank Timberlake said. "They will really cut down on search time when they are put into action."

The two officers that worked with the dogs, Sgt. Charlie Harmon and Probation Patrol Officer Frank Massey, have been training three days a week for the past three months.

"The dogs will focus mostly on marijuana at first," Harmon said. "It will make the job a lot easier, as it used to take us two hours to raid a house, but a dog can search it in 15 to 20 minutes."

Harmon and Massey were excited about their dogs and the chance to show off the work they had gone through to train the dogs.

"I'm proud of how hard they worked and the time they took to make sure they did it right," Timberlake said.

At the event, Timberlake set up five "finds" (narcotics) in a room and the dogs would have to sniff them out and let their owner know where it was.

Both dogs sniffed all the finds out within minutes as they quickly and efficiently scoured the room.

They let the owners know they had found something by pawing the area it was at and barking. In one instance, Massey's dog, who had found a bag of marijuana behind a picture frame, knocked the bag out himself without his owner grabbing it.

Timberlake said that Harmon had been begging him for a narcotics dog for a long time, but in the end, Harmon brought his own dog to Timberlake and the two worked him in to a narcotics dog.

"The dogs are just like humans and can have bad or unproductive days too," Timberlake said. "But they are now ready for any task presented to them."

As Sheriff Greg Atkins put it, the work hasn't been easy for the officers and because of the efforts and cost they put into training these dogs, the whole community will benefit.

"Officers have put a lot of their time and money into becoming a better service to the people," he said.

The two new officers saw their first live action Friday when both dogs found narcotics during the search of a home outside of Aulander.