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Boomer joins ranks at Sheriff’s Office

— The Routt County Sheriff’s Office’s new K-9 unit wasted no time getting his paws wet.

Boomer, a 16-month-old German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois mix from the Czech Republic, began duty three weeks ago. Already, he is being credited with four heroin arrests.

“Better than expected,” Undersheriff Ray Birch said, when asked how the addition of a K-9 unit was going. “They came out of the academy and went right to work.”



Deputy Ed Hendricks, who joined the Sheriff’s Office a year ago and has worked in law enforcement for more than 19 years, was selected to be Boomer’s partner.

Hendricks met Boomer on the first day of a five-week training academy in Reno, Nevada. Boomer was a “green dog” with no training.



“He came right in and was friendly and happy and go-lucky,” Hendricks said. “We were together 24 hours a day.”

Boomer responds to commands in German, Czech and English.

“He knows by the command what his job is,” Hendricks said.

He was trained to sniff out heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines and ecstasy, and other drugs can be added. Boomer can also be used for searches and to help apprehend suspects, and Boomer knows how to bite.

“That’s usually a last resort,” Hendricks said.

Hendricks’ patrol car has been outfitted with a dog cage and rear door that can be opened by remote. An alarm will sound if the car gets too hot for Boomer.

The 2015 budget for the sheriff’s new K-9 program is $18,000, which will cover food, modification to the patrol car and veterinary expenses. Pet Kare Clinic is trying to raise $1,000 to outfit Boomer with a bullet-proof vest. When he is not riding in the back of a patrol car or visiting Sheriff’s Office employees, Hendricks lives at home with Hendricks.

“When he’s at home, he’s off duty,” Hendricks said. “He’s a dog at home.”

So far, Boomer has used his training four times. He helped the Steamboat Springs Police Department try to find people suspected of stealing a car.

“We just didn’t catch the guys that night,” Hendricks said.

Boomer has been called three times to sniff for drugs in cars. Two of those times, Boomer detected drugs, and with his training, police then had probable cause to search the car.

On April 12, deputies were called to help a driver who crashed into a snow bank on Rabbit Ears Pass. The deputies found that the driver had expired insurance. Boomer then arrived to sniff around the car.

After smelling drugs, deputies found foil with suspected heroin residue.

The driver, 29-year-old Niles Nelson, and his passenger, Amanda Jones-Evink, 22, were arrested on suspicion of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

On Saturday, Boomer and Hendricks helped the Colorado State Patrol search another car on Rabbit Ears Pass. The driver, Cody Greatbatch, had already been taken into custody after troopers discovered Greatbatch had a warrant related to heroin distribution. While searching Greatbatch, troopers found .7 grams of suspected heroin, according to an arrest affidavit.

When Boomer searched the car, he smelled drugs from the front passenger side, where Carey Tilton was sitting. After searching Tilton, troopers found a small amount of heroin, according to the affidavit. When troopers searched the car, they found a plastic bag with four syringes, a cook spoon and a small plastic bag containing suspected heroin. There was also more than $10,000 in cash in the center console.

If it were not for Boomer giving the officers probable cause to search the cars, Hendricks said, the heroin would not have been found.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland


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