Po­lice dogs and ‘Reefer Mad­ness’

Imperial Valley Press - - OPINION - RICK JENSEN Rick Jensen is an an­noy­ing, award-win­ning Delaware talk show host and equally an­noy­ing na­tional colum­nist. Email rick@DBCMe­dia.com

Years ago, a pro­pa­ganda film en­ti­tled “Reefer Mad­ness” de­picted first-time cannabis smok­ers turn­ing into in­stant ma­ni­acs, hal­lu­ci­nat­ing, killing and rap­ing af­ter just a cou­ple of puffs.

It has be­come known as a grand par­ody, though that was not the in­tent.

Please wel­come to the same stage “The Illi­nois Histri­on­ics Play­ers,” star­ring Ma­con County Sher­iff Howard Buf­fett and his ami­able side­kick, Chad Larner, train­ing di­rec­tor of the K-9 Train­ing Academy in De­catur, Ill.

When asked about pos­si­ble ef­fects of le­gal­iz­ing marijuana in Illi­nois, the play­ers went into full “Reefer Mad­ness” mode, say­ing it would make the dogs use­less and a threat to so­ci­ety, re­quir­ing them to give their dogs the “Old Yeller” treat­ment.

While Larner did not specif­i­cally say how he would kill “a num­ber” of his 275 nar­cotics- sniff­ing dogs, he made it clear he is pre­pared to sac­ri­fice their lives on the al­tar of marijuana pho­bia.

He told Pan­ta­graph reporter Ryan Voyles, “Be­cause many K-9s are trained not to be so­cial so their work won’t be af­fected, a num­ber of dogs would likely have to be eu­th­a­nized.”

Voyles then talked with po­lice in two other Illi­nois towns who told him what many of you al­ready know, which is that re­tired K-9 dogs typ­i­cally live with their han­dlers. They don’t slaugh­ter the dogs.

Do you think for a minute that if any Ma­con County dogs are butchered, it’s not be­cause Larner just plain wants to do it?

An­other less bru­tal, “Reefer Mad­ness” mo­ment is when Ma­con County Sher­iff Howard Buf­fett tells Voyles, “The big­gest thing for law en­force­ment is, you’re go­ing to have to re­place all of your dogs. So to me, it’s a gi­ant step for­ward for drug deal­ers, and it’s a gi­ant step back­wards for law en­force­ment and the res­i­dents of the com­mu­nity.”

I made a call to the po­lice depart­ment in Seat­tle, Wash., where their K-9 units have some­how con­tin­ued to live and do their jobs pro­tect­ing law- abid­ing cit­i­zens, in­clud­ing those who legally use cannabis.

The of­fi­cial with whom I spoke asked not to be iden­ti­fied. The K-9 unit ap­par­ently doesn’t want to be dragged into this non­sense.

When I men­tioned the Illi­nois of­fi­cer who said that dogs would have to be eu­th­a­nized upon the pas­sage of le­gal­iz­ing marijuana, he laughed and then sighed.

He also con­firmed no dogs in his ju­ris­dic­tion had been eu­th­a­nized due to the le­gal­iza­tion. These ca­nine pro­fes­sion­als are trained to de­tect mul­ti­ple drugs and many have ad­di­tional tal­ents.

He laughed again and re­it­er­ated that he was not go­ing to go on the record.

On the record, Jay Casil­las of the Den­ver Po­lice Depart­ment told me, “Since marijuana was le­gal­ized, we have not been forced to re­tire or eu­th­a­nize our K- 9s.”

“We do not eu­th­a­nize our K- 9s. … Our K-9s are still work­ing, and they con­tinue to be trained on four odors [ marijuana, co­caine, metham­phetamine and heroin],” Casil­las said. “Since the le­gal­iza­tion of marijuana, we have slightly changed the train­ing with re­gard to sniff­ing marijuana. We now train our dogs to de­tect larger amounts ( 10 pounds or more) of marijuana be­cause we still have to ad­dress the black mar­ket for MJ.

“We re­tire the dogs when it is nec­es­sary and they usu­ally stay with their po­lice han­dler as their fam­ily pet,” Casil­las added. “When a K9 is re­tired, we pur­chase a new one to take their spot.”

What about that less dra­matic and equally ig­no­rant state­ment in which Ma­con County Sher­iff Buf­fett said all the dogs would have to be re­placed?

Why? Be­cause they could no longer de­tect co­caine, heroin and other drugs now that marijuana is le­gal?

Don’t the Illi­nois train­ers know how to train their dogs to de­tect the large amounts of marijuana still deemed il­le­gal?

Maybe it’s the Illi­nois of­fi­cials that need to be re­placed or trained by the Seat­tle and Den­ver K-9 of­fi­cers.

Mean­while, the Illi­nois dogs would serve the Prairie State well by adding an­other aroma to their reper­toire.

They could add any amount of Buf­fett’s and Larner’s “B. S.”

The prob­lem with that is the ca­nines within earshot of those two would be too pre­oc­cu­pied to get any real drug sniff­ing work done.

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