The presence of narcotics in a community can have an obvious impact on the quality of life. When drugs run rampant, other associated crimes increase. These can include an increase in burglaries, thefts, assaults, and weapon offenses. For that reason, the Dickinson Police Department is determined to take a proactive role in the war on drugs. One weapon in that war is the drug detection K-9.
The Dickinson Police Department received its first drug detection K-9 in the summer of 2006. The first dog, "Duke", has since retired. Other past dogs include "Buster", "Talon", and "Samson".
The current members of the department's K-9 Unit are Officer Corey Lee and K-9 "Gambit" and Officer John Hiltunen and K-9 "Niko".
K-9 Gambit is a purebred Belgian Malinois. He came from North Iowa K-9 and has been thoroughly trained in the detection of narcotics, tracking, article searches, and apprehension. Gambit is DPDs first "dual-purpose" K-9; meaning he is trained for narcotics work and apprehension work.
Officer Lee and Gambit were certified by Midwest Canine Alternatives in mid June 2013. Gambit passed his certification test with flying colors and has been successful in taking drugs off the streets of Dickinson ever since.
Other duties that Officer Lee and Gambit will be performing include traveling to schools, neighborhood watch groups, and other functions to inform the public about the K-9 program and narcotics in general. Funding for Gambit and another new drug dog was made possible through donations from area businesses and citizens. See below for a list of our sponsors.
K-9 Niko is the second dog purchased through North Iowa K-9. Niko is a purebred female Belgian Malinois. She is a single-purpose narcotic dog and comes extensively trained on alerting to the odor of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin.
Officer John Hiltunen is currently paired with K-9 Niko. They are currently in training and will be certified in mid August of 2013.
Together with Officer Lee and K-9 Gambit, Officer Hiltunen and K-9 Niko work opposite shifts to ensure that a drug dog is on the streets on almost any night or day of the week.
The K-9 Unit works closely with the Southwest Narcotics Task Force (SWNTF) to develop patrol tactics and share intelligence. Many arrests that the K-9 Unit makes end up helping the SWNTF by connecting the area drug ring.
The Unit also assists the department's School Resource Officer. The team is often called upon by the area schools to perform random drug sniffs on school property.
Gambit and Niko are not the only drug detection dogs in the area. The team also trains and works closely with the Stark County Sheriff's Department and North Dakota Highway Patrol. Both agencies have their own drug detection dog.
As the energy boom of southwest North Dakota continues to expand, the community will be tested on its ability to deal with the possible increase in drugs and their associated crimes. Learning from the lessons of the late 1970's oil boom, the department is determined to be proactive in meeting the challenges that the community will be facing. We are confident that with the SWNTF being as strong as it has been in years, with the addition of drug detection dogs, and with the continued support of the city commission and citizens, our community will be an example for others around the region to follow.
In early 2013, the Dickinson Police Department was set to retire two K-9s from service; K-9 Buster and K-9 Samson. A fundraising effort was conducted, and several area businesses and individuals donated to the K-9 team in 2013. As a result, two new narcotics dogs were purchased; K-9 Gambit and K-9 Niko. Both dogs are Belgian Malinois breed, and were purchased through North Iowa K-9. We would like to thank our donors for making our K-9 unit the strongest it has ever been!