The Pima County Sheriff’s Department has twelve canine teams. Ten of these teams are dual-purpose canines used for patrol purposes and narcotics detection. Eight teams are assigned to the Tucson Metro area and two teams are assigned to Ajo. The Sheriff’s Department utilizes Belgian Malnois police service dogs, which are close relatives of the more common German Shepherd. They are carefully selected for their drive to search and work, as well as their overall obedience. Each team goes through hundreds of hours of training in order to be able to located hidden drugs. Dual purpose canine teams also train to locate and apprehend criminal suspects who have run, hidden themselves or otherwise refuse to surrender.
The Sheriff’s Department also has an Explosives Detection Canine that was funded by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. This bomb detecting dog was raised in the “Puppies Behind Bars” program and trained by inmates. “Angel” is a single purpose dog, focusing exclusively on the detection of even trace amounts of explosives and gun powder. “Angel” is assigned with a Bomb Squad Technician and the team has been deployed to several large scale events including the Super Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl and numerous NCAA basketball games. “Angel” and her handler have also deployed to support detectives in order to locate firearms, spent firearms casings and other evidence with gunpowder residue.
As part of the Sheriff’s Department strategy to battle illegal drugs in Pima County, the Sheriff’s Department also deploys a currency detection canine. This single purpose canine has been trained to detect the odor of hidden U.S. currency. Smugglers often transport the ill-gotten gains of their illegal trade through Pima County, and this canine team deploys during special operations and highway interdictions in order to intercept, disrupt and damage the enterprise of drug traffickers.
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