The Benefits of Police Dogs - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

01/10/08-Nacogdoches

The Benefits of Police Dogs

by Tashun Chism

While police dogs are common at police departments in large metropolitan areas, they're considered a luxury for many small police departments. As a result, many police departments here in Texas don't have K9s. East texas news nine took an inside look at one of the few that does.

Nacogdoches ISD K9 officer Johnwayne Valdez and his partner Dasti have been patrolling the high school campus for 2 years. In that time, he's seen reaction from students and faculty members change quite a bit.

"At first, there was a little bit of fear, never having a dog in the school before full time. I think everybody has gotten pretty accustomed to dasti being around," Valdez said.

There have also been other positive changes. Officer Valdez and Dasti have only found drugs on campus twice in two years. Datsi does random classroom drug searchs every day, sometimes twice a day.

"I also train him throught the day. Periodically I have research drugs that I can use at my disposal that I will put into lockers in the hallway and let them sit there a while. Then I will get him out of my office and work on lockers," Valdez told us.

We took a can of marijuana and hid it inside of a locker to see if Dasti could find it and he went right to it.

"The kids see that. Word of mouth is a very good deterent, and when they see that he can actually do what I say he can do, it's very effective," Valdez said.

The Nacogodoches Police Department is one of the many East Texas police departments that doesn't have a K9.

Ncogdoches Police Chief Jim Sevey tols us, "Some of the problems associated with having a K9 is the expense of the unit. You have special training. Of course the dog itself. You have to hire the personnel. So you need an officer, you need the equipment, you the dog and you need the training."

The first year cost alone for a K9 unit could be as much as $100,000. But Nacogdoches Police officials know a good K9 unit would be well worth it.

"A good K9 unit and a well trained dog and handler are just tough to beat on things like narcotics searches. They can also do tracking excercises," Chief Sevey said.

Nacogdoches Police are currently searching for funding for a new K9 unit. They hope to have one in place within 2 to 3 years. Nacogdoches ISD purchased Dasti with the help of community donations.

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