Search dogs Ruger and Justice report for duty
by Wes Mayer
The Coweta County Sheriff's Office is proud to welcome two new officers - of the search dog variety.
Ruger, a 3-year-old Dutch shepherd, and Justice, a 10-month-old yellow labrador retriever, are the newest K-9s with the CCSO Crime Suppression Unit. Justice, whose full name is actually Sheriff Yeager Seeking Justice, is teaming up with Sgt. Mark Storey, and Ruger is partnering with Deputy First Class Troy Foles.
Justice and Deputy Storey just spent their first full week working together after graduating from the Alabama Canine Law Enforcement Officers Training Center in Northport, Ala. Storey has spent 14 years working with canines in the CSU. He also works as an instructor training dogs for many agencies in and around Coweta.
However, Justice has a particular skill Storey has never worked with. Justice has been trained to detect the scent of lithium batteries and circuit boards in cell phones.
'I'm really looking forward to watching this dog work,' said Coweta Sheriff Mike Yeager.
Storey said he trained in Alabama to learn how Justice will work prisons and jails searching for narcotics and cell phones. Storey said smuggled cell phones have become a problem in large prisons across the U.S. by allowing prisoners to illegally communicate with each other, potentially endangering officers or other prisoners.
While this has not been a problem in Coweta County, Storey said Justice will do sweeps at the Coweta County Prison and Coweta County jail, and he won't be surprised if the team gets loaned out to other nearby agencies.
'Sheriff Yeager has been known for being ahead of the curve, being proactive and doing a lot of prevention,' Storey said.
Justice and his training, costing $9,500, was funded by CCSO drugseized assets. Ruger, a K-9 trained for narcotic detection and tracking, was purchased with the help of local donations.
Last year, Foles' canine partner of more than four years, Remko, was diagnosed with bone cancer. Foles and other deputies learned that fighting the cancer would be incredibly painful for the Belgian Malinois, and it would weaken Remko to the point of being unable to work. Foles had to make the tough decision, and Remko was put down on Oct. 1, 2012.
Shortly after learning of the sheriff's office's loss, members of the Newnan Rotary Club got together with their program that raises money for assistance dogs, and the club chose the sheriff's office as the recipient. After the program raised awareness, the Coweta-Fayette EMC teamed up with the Rotary Club and private donors and raised a total of $4,100.
'Coweta-Fayette EMC … supports Sheriff Yeager's K-9 drug task force deputies in their efforts to deter drug use and possession in Coweta County schools and other locations,' said Tony Sinclair, president and CEO of Coweta-Fayette EMC. 'Protecting children from the effects of drugs is a noble cause. Having a strong drug task force with the resources they need keeps our EMC members safe. Keeping the local crime rate down also enhances our efforts to promote economic development.'
The sheriff's office was able to put forward the additional $4,400 from drug-seized assets to purchase Ruger, and in February, the new partner was placed by Foles' side.