Crime-fighting K9s

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Drug users beware. Both the small Shelby County towns of Harpersville and Vincent have K9 (police dog units) that can sniff out illegal drugs.

In addition to drugs, Vincent has trained dogs for tracking and finding scents related to arson crimes.

Harpersville recently re-started its K9 unit with Patrol Officer Jeremy Brooks and a yellow Labrador Retriever named Hunter.

According to Brooks, Hunter is a 1-year-old drug detection dog from the K9 Center in Clanton.

Brooks completed a four-week training with Hunter. But Hunter had been through eight weeks training first for a total of 12 weeks.

Brooks, 28, is a lifelong resident of Harpersville who has been with the Harpersville Police Department for two years. Harpersville has been without a K9 unit since March.

Harpersville Police Chief Paul W. Brasher said of the renewal of the K9 unit, &uot;We’re looking forward to getting out there freeing the community of the drugs.&uot;

Brasher said of Brooks as a K9 officer, &uot;We need him bad.&uot;

He said since the last K9 officer left, one could tell the drug activity has increased in the town.

Brooks said he and Hunter are certified to search schools, homes and businesses. He said Hunter is also certified to search luggage, open fields, 18-wheelers, buses and cars.

He said Hunter could detect marijuana, heroine, cocaine, methamphetamine and prescription drugs Xanax and Lortab.

Brooks said a drug dog could be allowed to walk around a vehicle anytime there is probable cause.

He said during a driver’s license check, for instance, the dog can be walked while another officer checks the license.

David Latimer is the K9 officer, handler and trainer for the Vincent Police Department.

He fights crime in Vincent with his dogs, Georgia, a registered Bloodhound, Tatsa, a Malinois narcotics dog, and Midnight, a mixed Labrador, who was rescued from the pound.

Latimer conducts K9 searches including narcotics, arson, explosives and tracking/trailing.

He said Georgia is the newest addition to the Vincent Police Department K9 unit. He’s had her for about three weeks.

But Tatsa is also new to the unit, having come on board a couple of months ago.

Midnight, however, has been with Latimer for about four years.

Latimer has been with the Vincent Police Department for three years in part-time and full-time service working patrol operations, arson investigations and fire and explosion investigations.

He has served officially as a K9 officer, however, for only a year.

Latimer is an FBI certified marksmanship instructor, certified peace officer, certified dog trainer, certified fire and explosion investigator/instructor, master electrician, master plumber/gas fitter and a heating and air conditioning certified contractor.

He is a member of the National Association of Fire Investigators, Canine Accelerant Detection Association and International Association of Electrical Inspectors.

Latimer said, &uot;You make it, you hide it. We’ll find it.&uot;

In addition to his work with the police department in Vincent, Latimer trains dogs for mold and termite detection.