October 23, 2011 in Idaho

Deputy’s canine companion played vital role in the case

By The Spokesman-Review

On Dec. 19, with the sun setting fast, a Dutch shepherd named Bari went to work in a trailer park in Bayview, Idaho.

It was about two and a half hours after Kootenai County sheriff’s deputies had responded to a call that four people had been attacked with a hammer. Bari and his handler, Deputy Jason Shaw, were asked to try to find the weapon allegedly used in the crime.

Within about 10 minutes, the 4-year-old police dog lay down beside the porch of the victims’ neighbor, Larry Cragun. Bari is trained to “passively indicate” evidence, because if he were to pick up a gun in his mouth, it could fire. Or he could disturb evidence, Shaw said.

Bari had searched the driveway and checked both sides of the road. He had worked the perimeter of the victims’ trailer, just 50 feet away up a hill. And he had sniffed through an embankment in front of Cragun’s trailer then quickly crossed up toward it.

Shaw said detectives eventually would have found the hammer, but using the police dog “just sped up the process. You never know where it’s going to be.” He said he is “humbled” by the ability of his 78-pound brindle-colored partner, who works just for the opportunity to play with his chew toy.

When the dog lay down, Shaw approached and saw on the deck what appeared to be a “framing-type hammer” with a “waffle-style head,” his report said. When asked by his supervisor whether there was blood on it, Shaw shined his flashlight on it and “noted the waffle-head pattern did in fact appear to be reddish in color.”

The sheriff’s department has three dogs, paid for mostly by private donations. From purchase to training for a dog alone, Shaw said, the cost can be up to $20,000. And dogs have become more expensive since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

The dog does everything from recover stolen items to sniff out narcotics. And his incredible sense of smell helps keep his partner and other deputies safe, Shaw said. “The dog will pay for himself easily within the first year, usually within the first month. It’s a pretty cheap investment overall.”

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