Regional Justice Center hosts K-9 training day

(Photo above: Among the K-9 teams attending the training event was black lab Rocco, 7 years old, and WSP K-9 Trooper Charles Bates, who works out of Wenatchee. The team have been working together for five years. Photo below: Milly, 6 years old, is a veteran, having worked for the Oregon State Patrol before coming to the WSP. She works out of Okanogan County with WSP K-9 Trooper Darryl Tolen.



The narcotics-detecting team of Corrections Deputy Jacob Lewis and K-9 Kait hosted a training event for their peers on March 15 at the Chelan County Regional Justice Center.

The Chelan County duo was joined by eight other K-9 narcotics detection teams representing the Washington State Patrol and the Airway Heights Police Department. They came from around the state, including from Wenatchee, Yakima, Airway Heights, Spokane, Ellensburg and Okanogan County.

The group meets monthly in Eastern Washington to train and exchange ideas. For this month’s training, the dogs tested their skills in the justice center’s annex, where the officers had hidden a variety of narcotics. Chelan County commissioners also visited to watch the dogs work and to learn more about the K-9 program.

The dogs were of a variety of breeds, from the small but spry Milly, a 6-year-old springer spaniel who has worked for two state patrols, to the more vocal and intimidating Koda, a 3-year-old German Shepherd who was rescued from a life of neglect.

Sometimes the dogs are donated to law enforcement agencies or adopted by local humane societies. If purchased, they can cost thousands of dollars. All attend a five-week training academy that equates to 200 hours of detection work. Narcotics detection programs are looking for dogs that are usually between 18 and 24 months old and who demonstrate a superior sense of smell.

“They have the nose and the willingness to work,” said WSP K-9 Trooper Paul Woodside, who works out of the Yakima and is also a certified K-9 trainer.

In Chelan County, Lewis and Kait have been working together for a year. The youngest team among their peers, they are only one of two K-9 teams working in a jail in Washington. The other team is in Pierce County.

The monthly trainings are an opportunity for Kait to sharpen her skills in new environments, Lewis said. For him, it’s a chance to get feedback from his peers, he added.

“Overall the day was successful. When Kait and I attend these monthly trainings, our skills are put to the test,” Lewis said. “Most of the training environments we attend – vehicles, aircrafts and common buildings – are typical scenarios for these other agencies. While these are not typical environments that Kait and I are used to searching, the trainings allow us to learn and refine our skills as a team. Hosting this month allowed us to share a jail or correctional setting with the other teams and to challenge them by recreating scenarios that are common for me and Kait.”

Last Updated: 03/30/2022 02:05 PM

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