Salem Police Canine Officer Dustin Duncan with partner 'Freddie' outside his specially equipped canine squad car.
Salem's new canine officer Dustin Duncan with his partner 'Freddie'.
The Salem Police Department has a new member....Freddie. The department's first canine in ten years has been assigned his own badge number as he takes to the streets of Salem this week with Officer Dustin Duncan. Duncan has just returned from six weeks of training with the dog at Top Dogs Police K9 Kennel in Evansville, Indiana. He says the dog is trained in narcotic detection, suspect apprehension, tracking and article searches. Duncan pushed for the canine unit.
"I presented it to the chief and some other people and I said we could seize a million dollars tomorrow and that dog would pay for itself."
He added, "The dogs ability to find and track a missing person and maybe ultimately save someone's life is irreplaceable. To have that capability and availability of that dog, there's no other way to do that."
And Duncan says 'Freddie' will give the Salem Police Department new tools to fight drugs.
"Exterior sniffs of vehicles if that situation presents itself and all the criteria is met. We don't have to go to a judge or the prosecutor to request a warrant to enter the vehicle and such."
Duncan says, "We can actually do an exterior sniff of the vehicle and through training and different things we can tell when a dog gives a positive alert on that vehicle for the odor of narcotics."
Duncan says the training is completed through lots of repetition.
Salem Police Chief Sean Reynolds made adding the canine one of his top priorities when becoming chief.
"Ultimately it's not just having a good dog, but it's having a good handler. I will say that Captain John Haller, retired from Edwardsville PD who's in charge of the Top Dogs Training Academy, gave very high praise of officer Duncan. Said specifically if he was putting together a team of officers, he would want officer Duncan on that team."
Reynolds added, "You get that kind of praise from someone in his capacity that's saying a lot. I think the community will be very proud of the dog, the handler and the results."
Reynolds believes the city's drug fund, which is fueled by drug seizures, will now be able to pay the entire $27,500 cost of the dog, training, and other expenses.
Duncan will work a flexible schedule, putting the dog on the street at various times of the day. When not on duty, Freddie will live in a kennel at Duncan's home.