Sea Doo, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, officially joined the force last week.
Sea Doo is trained in narcotics and will not be used for tracking or bomb-sniffing.
Drug cases represent nearly a third of the arrests made by CPD this year.
Sea Doo’s partner, Officer Tony Reid, recently received 160 hours of training through the Central Alabama Police K9 Association.
Reid interviewed for the handler job after the council voted to add a K9 unit in August.
“I hate drugs, so that’s just another asset to help get them off the street,” Reid said.
Nick Smith said he has been looking to acquire a K9 unit since taking over as police chief one year ago.
Smith said one instance where Sea Doo will come in handy is during traffic stops in which officers suspect that drugs are in the car but the vehicle’s owner will not consent to a search.
“Once they tell us no, we would be able to call out to the canine to run around the vehicle. If the dog indicates that there has been or there is illegal narcotics inside the vehicle, then we don’t have to have a warrant. That is our probable cause to search the vehicle,” Smith said.
In his first week on the job, Sea Doo was called out by county officers to assist with searching a car on the interstate.
Sea Doo will also be available to search area schools at the request of local principals.
Sea Doo will accompany Reid on all of his shifts. Reid will be given 30 minutes out of each 12-hour shift to devote to training.
“He has to train regularly because he can only hold four odors for five to 10 days without being rescented on them,” Reid said.
Reid is responsible for all expenses associated with Sea Doo’s feeding and veterinary care.
The city paid $4,000 for Reid’s training and acquired the dog at no cost through the CAPK9 program.
Mayor Drew Gilbert said he believes Sea Doo was well worth the investment.
“These guys have ruffled the feathers of that drug element in the community, so they (dealers) are tightening up their act and moving things a little bit differently. I think that’s one area where the dog comes into play,” Gilbert said. “Also, interstates change small communities. It’s wide open, and you get an element that you don’t want here. The fact that we can protect that border with this canine is a big deal for me.”
Reid also signed a three-year contract with the city in exchange for being Sea Doo’s handler.
Sea Doo is owned by the city and will remain with the department if Reid chooses to leave after his contract has been fulfilled.