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Our view: This pooch has earned his Gravy Train

At issue

Routt County budgeted $18,000 to support a new K-9 unit for the Sheriff’s Office

Our view

The investment is already paying off with the K-9 team assisting on four felony drug arrests

Routt County commissioners earmarked $18,000 in the 2015 budget for a new sheriff’s office recruit, and based on early results, we think it’s money well spent. The funds were used to purchase Boomer, the county’s first K-9, and also to pay for five weeks of advanced training, as well as his food, veterinary care and specialized equipment.

At issue

Routt County budgeted $18,000 to support a new K-9 unit for the Sheriff’s Office



Our view

The investment is already paying off with the K-9 team assisting on four felony drug arrests



During his first few weeks on the job, Boomer and his partner, sheriff’s Deputy Ed Hendricks, have worked together on several cases that resulted in felony drug arrests. The 16-month-old German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois mix was called in by the sheriff’s office and Colorado State Patrol to sniff cars for the presence of drugs, and in two of the four traffic stops, heroin was found. As a result, four people were arrested.

In both cases, Hendricks said the arrests would not have been made if Boomer had not alerted on the drugs and given law enforcement officers probable cause to search the vehicles.

At first glance, it could appear $18,000 is a lot of money to spend on a dog, but the recent drug arrests involving the services of Routt County’s new K-9 unit are impressive. Though it’s difficult to place a financial value on drug arrests, we do know getting drugs and drug dealers off the streets is worth a lot in terms of community safety.

It’s also seems clear that the $7,000 the county spent on training Boomer was a good investment. During five weeks of training at an academy in Reno, Nevada, Boomer and Hendricks learned to work together to identify the presence of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy, and the partnership appears to be working very well.

Although a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision limits law enforcement’s ability to detain someone while waiting for a K-9, we think Boomer’s services are still vital and can produce defensible arrests, especially if the K-9 team is called to the scene quickly. Boomer and Hendricks will also be used to assist in searches for missing people and to help apprehend suspects who attempt to flee the scene of a crime or accident.

When Boomer is not on the job, he lives with Hendricks, who is compensated for caring for the dog around the clock.

The Moffat County Sheriff’s Office and Craig Police Department have been using K-9 units since 2004, and we’re glad to see that Routt County has realized the value of implementing its own program. We think the team of Boomer and Hendricks can be a valuable resource for the community, and we also see the potential for Routt County’s K-9 unit to be used to assist other area agencies, such as the Colorado State Patrol, the Steamboat Springs Police Department and Routt County Search and Rescue.

We are impressed with the early success of the K-9 unit and think taking serious drugs such as heroin off the streets is well worth the initial $18,000 investment by Routt County officials.

It also appears the community at large is appreciative of Boomer’s services. Undersheriff Ray Birch reported last week that funds had been donated by a few members of the community to purchase a bullet-proof vest for Boomer that was not included in the original budget allocation.


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