It started when the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office offered a training session to help track down criminals, attended by several K-9 officers.
In late September, a K-9 officer who went to a training session held by the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office brought up a nonprofit organization called K9s of Valor and its program to donate Narcan kits. After learning about this, the Newton Police Department sought out K9s of Valor and was able to get a kit for its K-9 Smokey.
“Due to the narcotic aspect of Smokey’s work, he is at a higher risk of exposure to these drugs. Smokey is much safer on patrol because of the Naloxone kit,” said Newton Police Officer Zach Walker, Smokey’s handler. “Newton Police Department is very grateful to K9s of Valor.”
K9s of Valor provides Naloxone and trauma kits for K-9s with no cost to law enforcement agencies. Their purpose is to donate the equipment necessary to keep K-9 officers and their dogs as safe as possible.
One of the dangers of the job is exposure to carfentanyl and fentanyl, reportedly the most recent increasing epidemic in drug use. Exposure to a very small amount of these drugs can be fatal. These effects can be reversed by the drug Naloxone.
“It is becoming more commonplace for law enforcement officers to carry Naloxone on their person in case they are exposed,” Walker said.
Smokey was chosen by the NPD in late 2015. The dog came from a training facility called Midwest K9 in central Iowa.
During the following months, Walker and Smokey had four weeks of K-9 training through Midwest K9 together. They also did some fundraising within Newton to help their K-9 program.
“Smokey and I have been working on patrol since May 2016,” Walker said.
Smokey’s main job with the NPD involves tracking and narcotics. He is deployed on vehicles that have been stopped on a traffic stop, where he can sniff and detect the odor narcotics such as methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and marijuana.
“If Smokey can detect the odor of a narcotic from the outside of a vehicle, it can be searched,” Walker said.
Smokey is also responsible for tracking suspects on the run by picking up their scent. This is used mainly for suspects who flee from police officers, as well as with missing people or children.
“Smokey is a benefit to the department, increasing the efficiency of tracking persons and locating illegal narcotics,” Walker said.