Nicholasville Police Sergeant Bill Jones and Officer Howard Curtis have made their partners ride in the back seat for the past several months, but they only hear occasional whining out of them. That's probably because their patrol cars are customized for their new canine partners Becki and Moose, both of which love their jobs.
"These dogs live to work," said Jones. "As Labrador Retrievers, all we do is capitalize on their natural drive and focus it on locating illegal drugs. They are super trained."
Department representatives are quick to point out that the dogs are used only for searches of buildings, cars and property, not people, and that they are not attack or tracking dogs.
Officer Curtis said the canine partners can go anywhere human officers can.
"If we have a right to be there, such as at a traffic stop or in a public place, our dog can be there, too," he said. "Additionally, we can go anywhere we're invited, such as when a home or business owner asks us to come in."
Curtis pointed out that if their dog responds positively to the presence of illegal drugs, referred to as a canine alert, it is considered probable cause to conduct a search.
Jones, who has been on the city's force eight years, worked with dogs during his Air Force experience. Although Curtis, who has spent five of his seven years as a police officer with Nicholasville's Department, had no canine experience, he was willing to learn.
"I knew dogs had four legs, and that was about it," Curtis joked. "I know now that it's rewarding and physically demanding for the officer and the dog."
Ironically, the Nicholasville Police Department used money confiscated from a drug trafficker to purchase the dogs and for the training and needed equipment. The training began late last year and the partners hit the road at the end of February of this year.
Since then, they have made a number of arrests based on evidence sniffed out by Moose and Becki.