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Nov 18, 2016 4:56 PM

NH1 News Investigates: Behind the Badge with the NH State Trooper's K-9 Unit


“Hi I’m Gary Ingham with the State Police K-9 Unit and you’re watching behind the badge on NH1 News.”

Trooper Ingham is one of 15 New Hampshire State Police troopers in the division’s K-9 Unit.

On this episode of Behind the Badge, we show you how the canine’s heightened senses help their trooper partners fight crime and save lives.

For New Hampshire State Police troopers and K-9s training exercises are a routine part of the job.

“They’re training all the time because they want to be ready for that important call that they get called to. They need to be ready at a moment’s notice,” said Sgt. Mark Hall.

Trooper Andrew Frigon and Sergeant Mark Hall are part of the Mobile Enforcement Team – a unit of highly-specialized troopers focusing on.

“All threats, all crimes, all hazards. Whether it’s human trafficking, drugs, stolen property wanted people,” Hall said.

If it’s happening on the roads of New Hampshire, they’re on it.

On this night - in this white pickup on I-95 in Hampton - they suspect heroin.

That’s where Sgt. Hall’s partner, Gator comes in.

“There’s a narcotics trained K-9 who’s back there. What he’ll do is a walk-through of the vehicle, and I’ll explain what will happen from here,” Frigon said.

But first, Sgt. Mark Hall explains what makes these canines so valuable.

“Their nose is their best weapon. We always say the dog is there to find stuff that we can’t see. There’s been no machine produced up until now – even with today’s technology - that can duplicate what the dog’s nose can do,” Hall said. “They’re only limited by us, us humans. You can really teach a dog to do anything.

That’s why they’re trained to work the most critical cases in New Hampshire, which includes drug trafficking…

These K-9s can easily sniff out heroin, fentanyl, meth or cocaine in cars, homes, schools, county jails or state prisons.

A new addition – a 7 month old Plott Hound named Wyatt - can find human remains.

“For us to be able to go out there and actually find them is really the needle in the haystack, but the dogs are able to cover a lot of area, and be able to pick up on that scent and locate these people, bring them home to their families... we’re able to at least give them closure,” Hall said

The dog can track fugitives and – if warranted – they can detain them.

However, one of the most important lessons these canines learn, is how to protect themselves.

“The dogs are going into positions that are dangerous. They’re going into positions ahead of the trooper and we have to teach them that they do have to defend themselves and take action," Ingham said. "Let’s face it. The bad guys don’t care if you’re a police officer, a trooper or a K-9. They wish to do harm to all of us at times.”

There’s another threat to K-9’s and their handlers - fentanyl and the more powerful derivative carfentanil - found on calls for service.

Inhaling even the tiniest amount can be deadly.

Last month, a K-9 and two others were searching a Florida home for drugs when they were exposed to fentanyl.

Thanks in part to Narcan, they survived.

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