Police: Security search shows improving drug prevention efforts


WISE COUNTY, Va. - A random narcotic K-9 team search of the Wise County courthouse parking lot during a busy docket comes up empty. An estimated 600 people were expected through the doors Thursday. "It's a great sign when the police come up empty handed because that tells me either people are taking things pretty seriously and keeping it out of their vehicle and out of their lives or nobody had anything on them today," Sgt. Ryan Vanover said. Sgt. Vanover and his K-9 Jekyll have been working together for the Wise County Sheriff's Office for two years to uncover drugs in the community.

Vanover said, "We run the exterior of the vehicle, which means the outer, exterior panels of the vehicle. They sniff the free air that is around the vehicle. They're looking for the odor of narcotics that we certify in."

K-9 units go through 13 weeks of training to identify specific scents and responses. They are required to train at least four hours a week while in service. The dogs alert when they identify a familiar scent. Virginia State Police Senior Trooper Brian Dillon trains 30-40 K-9 teams per month at the facility in Abingdon. Dillon said, "Our dogs are trained on marijuana, hash, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, and any derivative of an opiate." Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp said the results indicate their drug enforcement and prevention efforts are working.

Slemp said, "This is an important deterrent effect for those who might want to bring contraband into our public buildings."