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CID, K-9 units begin partnership

Goal is to stay ahead of illegal drugs coming onto JBLM

Goro, a 96-pound German Shepherd, receives praise from his handler. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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The communication between Spc. Elaina Hitt and Goro, a 96-pound, male German Shepherd, ran up and down the nylon leash.

"Military Working Dogs, or MWDs, are very intelligent, well-trained, and highly motivated," said the dog handler assigned to the 95th Military Police Detachment, "and Goro is one of the best."

He soon proved that when he and Hitt entered a large warehouse, filled with everything from clothes and fertilizers to bicycles and detergents, to begin an up-and-down-the-aisle search pattern. They soon found the three hidden samples of illegal narcotics.

After each discovery, Hitt brought out a "kong," a toy used to reward Goro for his good work. After a good chew and positive verbal ques from Hitt, he was ready to go back to work.

"It's as much a test for the handler as it is for the dog," commented Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Bozovich, as he observed the training.

"The handlers know to look for a change of behavior in the dog; there is a well-defined communication between them. They are a team."

This sense of teamwork has become more pronounced.

The 6th Military Police Group (CID) recently approached and asked if the 95th MPD would coordinate training and operational efforts concerning drug suppression.

"It's a resource we could use more," explained CID Special Agent Joshua McKenna.

The Criminal Investigation Command (formerly division, hence the CID) is the Army's primary criminal investigation organization. 

On duty around the world, CID Special Agents conduct felony-level criminal investigations to include homicide, rape, sexual assault, child physical and sexual abuse, burglary, robbery, larceny of government and personal property, and the wrongful use, possession, distribution and introduction of controlled substances on bases.

"This is a first-time partnership at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM)," explained Investigator Brianna Smith as she watched the training.

"This is a joint effort between CID's Drug Suppression Team (DST) and the 95th's K-9 unit; this will be very helpful to both units."

Smith was clear in explaining that the training is one of proactiveness, not reactiveness.

"We want to stay ahead of drugs coming onto JBLM," she said, "and this partnership is going to be beneficial to the Joint Base Lewis-McChord community."

Meanwhile, Goro found himself in a mock barracks room.

"My team chief and I talked about creating this kind of scenario where we could integrate the training, so we put this together," continued Smith.

"It makes for some realistic training."

In the room were a bed, a small refrigerator, a dresser, and a couple of chairs. Hidden within were several controlled substances.

Hitt and Goro walked in and began a search, moving again in a patterned manner.

After his romp through the Rubik's cube of smells in the warehouse, Goro quickly keyed in on the concealed narcotics and let Hitt know.

"We will use the K-9 unit much more," concluded Special Agent McKenna.

"We are a team which actively pursues and finds the individuals who use drugs here at Joint Base Lewis-McChord."

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