The sheriff's departments in McDonough and Knox Counties each added a new canine officer. One will search for people while the other will search for drugs.
Bloodhound for McDonough County
Daisy Mae is a fully trained bloodhound that will help the department with search and rescue missions -- for example, a child who’s wandered off or a criminal suspect hiding in a corn field.
“She knows whenever we head for the car that she’s going to go to work,” said Bob Rowland, the part-time deputy who serves as Daisy Mae’s handler.
“And especially when you put the harness on her. You never put the harness on her until she’s ready to trail. When you put that on her, she’s all going. It’s like trying to hold a train back.”
Rowland said Daisy Mae is just a year old. She’s been trained since July, 2015, and has been raised to be a search & rescue dog.
“That’s all she knows is to use that nose,” said Rowland.
Daisy Mae was recently certified by the National Police Bloodhound Association. Rowland said two instructors at the certification were so impressed with her that they wanted to keep her.
“They said this dog is going to be phenomenal,” Rowland said.
Sheriff Rick VanBrooker estimated it cost $2,000 to $3,000 to buy and train the dog. He said the department did not foot the entire bill -- the Macomb Elks Club donated money to help pay for the purchase of Daisy Mae, Dr. Larry Loop of the Animal Medical Center has provided ongoing medical and maintenance services, R.P. Lumber and Midwest Building Supply donated material for the dog kennel, L.C.I. Concrete provided concrete for the kennel, and Farm King provided a dog house.
“I think it’s a very good investment,” said VanBrooker. “We’ve been involved in searches that have tied up people for hours upon hours. My hope is this will streamline it and make things go quicker.”
He also said there might be times when Daisy Mae is loaned to neighboring counties that don’t have a bloodhound.
Drug Dog for Knox County
The Knox County Sheriff’s Department said it’s happy with its current K-9 drug dog, Edo. But Sheriff David Clague said Edo is being used a lot, and another one is needed.
Clague said Edo and his handler work on swing shifts. That means being on call for all three shifts during five working days a week. If a search is needed outside those hours, then the hours are flexed to keep overtime costs down.
Taking all that into consideration, the county board approved the purchase of another drug dog for the sheriff’s department. The nearly two year old German shepherd and its training will cost around $5,000 , which will come from public safety tax revenue.
Training will begin this summer.
Clague said the new dog should help reduce wait times when someone is pulled over and deputies suspect drugs might be in the vehicle. He said a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year made those waiting times a concern.
“If you make a traffic stop, you can detain the driver in that vehicle for, I believe, 10 minutes, for the response of K-9,” Clague said.
Clague said only having one K-9 unit in the county has made it difficult to get a unit to a call in time. He said having two will help reduce those wait times.
The county’s drug dogs won’t be sent to traffic stops in Galesburg. The Galesburg Police Department has its own drug dog.
Clague said the sheriff’s department is still determining where its dogs will be stationed.