Champaign sheriff adds drug dog

Donation helped add new tool for deputies.

K-9 Ike began patrolling the streets this week with his handler, Deputy Justin Allender. A two-year-old Belgian Malinois, Ike was imported from Germany and purchased using a $5,000 donation from Urbana-based Orbis Corporation, according to the sheriff’s office.

Allender was selected as the K-9 deputy in May, a year after he was hired full-time with the department. Unlike the department’s K-9 blood hound that is trained in tracking, this new dog’s specialty is narcotics detection. He responds to commands spoken in German. Allender and Ike completed six weeks of specialty training at Storm Dog Training in Franklin County before hitting the streets.

“Ike is somewhat of a walking search warrant,” Allender said. “What he’ll do is if we suspect there’s drugs or anything illegal inside the car, I can pull him out and he will smell the air around the vehicle, and if he alerts to the vehicle, we’ll have probable cause to search it.”

Drug enforcement is one of the department’s key initiatives this year. Last week, the sheriff’s office confiscated 75 pounds of marijuana from a Wayne Twp. backyard.

“Sheriff Matt Melvin, we’ve been pro-active with marijuana eradication,” said Captain David Rapp. “This K-9 is going to be especially useful.”

Ike is also trained in tracking and suspect apprehension, and when he barks, Allender warns “he’ll bite.”

“I think most suspects would just give up when they see him and he starts barking,” he said.

The majority of the pair’s time will be spent on patrol and making traffic stops. Allender said Ike’s breed spends about 12 hours a day sleeping, so he gets plenty of rest in the specially-outfitted cruiser. The K-9 has already seen some action when they were called to the city of Springfield for a warrant search. The duo is anxious to make their mark in Champaign County.

“I feel like every police agency could use one (K-9). They’re such a useful tool. They really are not only for drug-related arrests, but he’s got the potential to save lives,” Allender said. “He’s ready and I’m ready.”

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