Local K-9 handlers complete course, receive visit from DA

Oct. 5—Local K-9 handlers completed their Basic Handlers Course Tuesday afternoon and the district attorney paid them a visit for their work.

Handlers and their K-9s completed the course by training one day a week for five weeks at the Chief Bob Adrian Regional Fire Training Center.

The District Attorneys office provided the 50-hour CLEET accredited course free of charge to surrounding law enforcement agencies. District 27 Drug Task Force Investigator Travis Saulsberry said a typical week-long course cost as much as $1,000 per department and some departments don't send their handlers to get the training due to costs.

"Everyone's done a good job. You [handlers], do you feel like you learned what you all need for foundation wise," Saulsberry asked the handlers. "[K-9 handlers] get sued more than anyone else especially when you have apprehension so make sure you know everything."

The course for the new handlers covered basic handling skills, scent movement, narcotics detection, K-9 patrol, and case law.

"What this class [is] was just foundation, so don't stop learning, don't quit going to K-9 trainings if you can go to it," Saulsberry said.

District Attorney Jack Thorp was there to hand out certificates to each handler and thanked them for being invested in the course.

"I was speaking over in Wagoner and I was talking about fentanyl. Some of the things that we are seeing right now is we have people who are flat out seeking fentanyl. It's no longer, "We're cutting the drugs with it,'" Thorp said.

The street value of one pill is currently $2.50 and Thorp said people are now going out to get it on their own.

"It's bad and it seems like every single week, I get every Medical Examiner's report for four counties. More times than car wrecks, more times than God knows how many homicides we get in District 27, fentanyl toxicity is killing people," he said.

The prosecutor said the more these handlers can do while out and about, the more his office can figure out how the drug is getting to his four counties.

"We're all in this together now. I appreciate everything you do. Keep trying, keep going, and do everything you possibly can because more than anything else, we have to save lives and that's what I care most about," Thorp said.