MOUNT GILEAD — A church isn’t usually the scene of a drug dog search.
But on Good Friday, Gilead Friends Church opened the building for K9 training. The dogs searched for items planted prior to the search.
For K9 Officer Nik and Officer Tom Cronenwett of the Mount Gilead Police Department, the training isn’t a new experience.
“We’ve been together almost two years. He’s been through different trainings before,” Cronenwett said.
He said 16 hours a month is the norm for K9 officer training. It includes obedience, drug work and tracking.
While Nik is a veteran, Morrow County Sheriff’s Office K9 Stormy is a newcomer, joining the force last year.
“Stormy is new to it, but she’s come along very, very well,” Cronenwett said.
Using the church is beneficial in training the dogs.
“There are different odors in general and exposure to new things is good for them. Floor textures … going from carpet area to tile area to concrete area… that’s helpful. You might expect that in a real search.”
Working the dogs in tight, confined spaces also is done, which is a similar setting as a house or trailer search.
Dogs can be used in building searches, drug sniffs and apprehensions.
Ben Brockway, a former member of Navy special forces and President of Mindset, Willingness and Determination (MWD), brought two members of the K9 Elite unit to the church. They are based in Marysville and have conducted trainings in Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and California.
“We want them to get maximized training and maximized searches in,” Brockway said.
The K9 Elite was established in 2013. Dogs are trained to search for narcotics and explosives.
His goal for the participants — human and canine — is simple.
“Every day they’re going to get better at what they do. You will become operational and be ready for any situation you’ll come across,” Brockway waid.
Mark Perkins of the Danville Police Department and his dog Rezza also participated.