County Sheriff's K-9 unit at full strength again
After a rocky beginning, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office K-9 teams are back on the streets in full force. The YCSO canine drug-detection program has been on hold since April while new handlers were in training for certification.
In June, YCSO removed four K-9 dogs from service because their handlers allegedly participated in the hazing of their co-worker during the April 11 K-9 training at theNavajo Army Depot near Flagstaff.
The Sheriff's Office investigated the allegations and subsequently reassigned those deputies to duties that do not include working with the dogs.
The dogs and their new handlers - deputies Todd Anderson, Harry Shrum, Jim Walls and Dean Guthery - underwent approximately 200 hours of training at several sites to learn how to search different types of buildings and vehicles to detect hidden drugs. Agencies sponsoring the training included DPS, Coconino County, Navajo County, Mohave County and an agency from New Mexico. The Department of Public Safety gave YCSO the training materials and use of the training grounds.
Former YCSO Deputy and dog handler, Gary Cunningham, matched the dogs with their handlers. Cunningham's experience includes working with "Marco," the now retired Belgian malinois who worked in Yavapai County for several years.
YCSO K-9s have begun working details throughout Yavapai County. Anderson and "Neo" and Guthery and "Elliot" cover the Northern Area Command; Shrum and "Aros" cover the Eastern Area Command, and Walls and "Tjando" work the Southern Area Command.