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Two police departments are ‘going to the dogs’
Cpl. Jonathan Kurtz of the Poth Police Department introduces his new K-9 partner, Kazan. The 2-year-old Belgian Malinois currently is undergoing training in San Antonio.
Wilson County NewsMarch 20, 2013 3,411 views 1 comment
Two new four-legged crime fighters have joined the fight against the flow of illegal narcotics being transported along the U.S. 181 corridor.
With $9,000 in assistance from the 81st Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the Poth Police Department now has a K-9 unit comprised of Cpl. Jonathan Kurtz and his 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, Kazan.
“This money came from our federal forfeiture fund, which was money seized from individuals involved in federal criminal drug activity or enterprises,” said Assistant District Attorney Audrey Louis of the 81st Judicial District. “We are then allowed to turn around and utilize those funds to support law enforcement by providing training, equipment, etc. Our office has been very proactive, and is committed to outfitting our law enforcement with every tool to fight the war on drugs in our communities.”
In addition to aiding the Poth Police Department, Louis said Kurtz and Kazan will assist other area law-enforcement agencies whenever the need arises.
For Kurtz, a six-year department veteran, the establishment of the city’s first-ever K-9 unit is a dream come true.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do even before I started my law-enforcement career,” he said. “My goal has been K-9 work. I did my research and never gave up on my goal.”
Poth police Chief Lowell Hull, who recently came to the city from the San Antonio Police Department, has mixed feelings about his newest officer.
“I think it’s unfortunate that we need to have something to use to detect drugs, that society needs to have [drug-sniffing dogs],” Hull said. “Having a good detection dog that’s good at detecting narcotics in our community can help us try to get narcotics away from our children. Maybe it will send the message out that Poth is not the place to come and sell drugs.”
Kazan, who came to the United States from England, currently is undergoing extensive training with Robert Gonzalez of Choice Dogs International in San Antonio. Through the training, he will learn to become a dual-purpose K-9 for use in both patrol and narcotics detection.
According to the website for Spring Branch-based Worldwide Canine Inc., in addition to police patrol, dual-purpose dogs are trained in the detection of narcotics or explosives. Potentially fatal results can occur if a dog’s bomb indication is mistaken for a drug-alert indication.
Fresh off completing narcotics certification in February is another soon-to-be dual-purpose dog, Rikkert. He is a 20-month-old Belgian Malinois acquired in late 2012 from the Netherlands by the Floresville Police Department. His handler is 13-year department veteran Sgt. Devin Keen, who previously worked with two other dogs of the same breed.
Keen already is impressed with Rikkert’s high work drive and his intense, strictly business attitude. The sergeant said the dog is quite adept at detecting narcotics, scoring 100 percent on his exam with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. Already in Floresville, the K-9 recently helped his fellow officers to detect marijuana and methamphetamine in two separate vehicle searches, Keen said.
Floresville has experienced an increase in narcotics-related arrests in recent years, a trend Keen expects to increase with the added vehicular traffic on U.S. 181 and S.H. 97 -- brought about by ongoing oil and natural gas exploration of the Eagle Ford shale. Both highways are known conduits for moving drugs and illegal aliens from San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley.
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