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ALTUS Okla_ The newest member of the Altus Police Department made her first public appearance Monday.
Her name is Destiny, and soon she will be sniffing drugs off the streets. The City of Altus was able to get her through a grant from Canine Universal out of San Antonio, Texas.
Canine Universal rescues dogs from shelters and bad homes and trains them to be drug-detecting dogs. After the Altus Police Department received an email from the company about getting one of those rescued dogs, Destiny became the newest member of the department.
Officer Jerry Downen said he’s dreamed of being a canine handler ever since he joined the police department four years ago, and he couldn’t be happier the chief chose him.
“They started training her and found out that she was going to do real good, so they saved her life, which is also a really good thing,” Downen said.
The grant they received from Canine Universal paid for Destiny and all her training. Altus Deputy Chief Mike Bell said the cost of the dog and her training is around $11,000.
“We received another grant through a company that’s out in California, that’s for the handler himself,” Bell said. “They’re going to help us subsidize the cost of his training.”
The City of Altus only had to pay to convert one of their patrol cars into a K-9 unit. Destiny received eight weeks of training in San Antonio. The last two weeks, Downen trained there with her. Destiny still has to be certified with the State of Oklahoma, and Bell said that should be done by early December. Then, she’ll be ready to hit the streets. Other than sniffing out drugs during traffic stops, she’ll be going to schools all over Jackson County for drug sweeps.
Downen said the thing he’s most excited to do as soon as she’s certified is, “going out and getting the drugs off the street, making big drug busts.”
Destiny will be joining the three other canines at the police department. For now, she will be a drug dog, but they may train her to track criminals in the future, because she has a smell capability of 250 yards.
The Altus Police Department also received a thermal imaging camera from the Oklahoma Department of Homeland Security. The police department can use it to help them find missing people or to find criminals who are hiding.