Bargersville Police have two firsts: the department’s first K-9 officer and what is assumed to be the first Tesla customized for K-9 police work.
K-9 Dax is currently in a 12-week training with his handler, Officer Jefferson Lamping. Dax already received training from the Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Indiana, now the two are training together in preparation to serve the town, said Jeremy Roll, public information officer. Once Lamping finishes his training with Dax at Vohne Liche, Dax will accompany him on night shifts, he said.
Lamping’s Tesla was also outfitted with a cage with climate controls to keep Dax comfortable year-round while he waits in the car. An emergency release button can also automatically let Dax free from the car in case of an emergency, Roll said.
With most other departments in Johnson County having one or more K-9 officers, the town council found money in the budget to bring a K-9 program to Bargersville.
“The town council deemed it would be a good time to get a narcotics detection tracking dog. Usually, budgetary issues come up and sometimes you have to go without things, but it seems like all the other departments had one and it was time to step up our robust narcotics interdiction,” he said. “This will help out with open-air sniffs of vehicles when it comes to methamphetamines, cocaine, heroin, things of that nature.”
Police agencies that don’t have a K-9 rely on help from other departments, which can lead to long waits for assistance if the K-9 officer is busy with another call.
Dax is trained to search for drugs, track and bite. One of the main ways he will help the town is to sniff at traffic stops, which can help get more drugs off the street, Roll said.
“Some of the challenges of operating without (a K-9), if you’re stopping a car and you have some sort of suspicion, you don’t have probable cause to search a vehicle,” he said. “With people’s rights the way they are, if you say ‘no,’ it’s absolutely ‘no.’ The dog will help us establish probable cause. To use an example, if we’re stopping a car where the driver or some of the passengers are acting suspiciously, we’ll do an open-air sniff to see if the dog alerts on the vehicle. If the dog doesn’t alert, the vehicle is good to go.”