By Tamarra Kemsley
For the first time in 30 years, the Provo Police acquired narcotic-recognizing K-9s.
Sgt. Mathew J. Siufanua of the Provo Police Department said the dogs will greatly expand the abilities of the police in tracing down illegal drugs.
“Having completed their eight-week course on tracking down narcotics, the K-9s will be able to help trace down illegal substances both in storage sheds and cars,” Siufanua said.
Siufanua said they are going to continue training the dogs to assist in instances besides narcotic searches.
“We’re going to put them through an eight-week course where they will be trained in tackling individuals that we need brought down for whatever reason,” he said.
Siufanua said the K-9s will be efficient in sniffing out the scents of lost children.
While he said he did not know why the police department has not had any police dogs since the 1970s, he attributes their gaining them now to Mayor John Curtis.
“He knew he wanted them and once he was elected mayor he made it a priority,” Siufanua said. “He’s been a great ally to us here at the police department.”
Siufanua said the prevalence of substance abuse in Provo is high.
“When I was posted at Timpview High not too long ago, we had 21 drug-related arrests in two months alone,” he said.
Siufanua said there are arrests among BYU students for possession of illegal substances albeit not many.
Isaac Bourgeois, BYU student studying physiology, said he has mixed feelings on the new dogs.
“I can see the advantages of the dogs’ ability to locate illegal substances,” he said, “but I am hesitant to throw my full weight behind it given that not all people that smell like marijuana are actually users.”
Bourgeois said he is concerned about the potential of the dogs to cause harm.
“I just don’t know how I feel about the whole tackling people thing, even if the individuals are running away,” he said.
In a news release, Chief of Police Rick Gregory said the K-9s were an important addition to the police department.
” I am deeply grateful for Mayor John Curtis and the City Council for affording us this opportunity,” he said. “This is a major step for our department and we look forward to many more positive changes in the future.”