A new K-9 to work on campus

By Joseph M. Molina
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 1, 1996

Charles C. Labenz
Arizona Daily Wildcat

UAPD Officer Chris Olson meets his new K-9 partner, Darro, yesterday. Darro is a replacement for Jos, a K-9 that worked with UAPD for five years who died in July.


Nearly three months after the death of one police dog, the University of Arizona Police Department has replaced it with a new K-9.

Darro was picked up yesterday by UAPD Police Chief Mike Thomas and Officer Chris Olson, the new handler, Lt. Kevin Haywood said.

Jos (pronounced Yoce), who had worked with UAPD for five years, died July 7.

Darro, a German Shepherd, cost UAPD about $5,200, and it will cost $500 to $700 annually to care for the animal, Thomas said.

Thomas said the K-9 will work between 4 p.m. and 2 a.m. He said the dog works when the handler does.

The dog pays for itself through seizure and forfeiture of drugs, Thomas said. He said that during Jos' lifetime, the dog helped seize over $150,000 worth and 12 vehicles.

Dogs can find things quickly because of their superior senses of hearing and smell, and Haywood said that adds a phenomenal dimension to police detection. In building searches and in crowd situations, he said the K-9 is valuable.

Students seem to agree.

"I think that it's a good idea because of the senses a dog has that humans don't," said Paul Gurevich, a biochemisty junior.

"If the UAPD deems it necessary to crack down harder on drug users, then a police dog would be necessary," said Ryan Kozuma, a civil engineering junior.

The new handler was chosen last Wednesday, Thomas said. He said the department was looking for an officer with at least three years of experience and someone who showed interest and intent to stay in the position.

Thomas also said candidates had to be energetic and willing to be involved in public relations.

Haywood said being a handler is time consuming and that the officer has to be willing to give up a lot to take care of the dog. He said some of the candidates rode with Tucson Police Department K-9 units to gain experience.

"We want the right person for the right reasons," Haywood said.

Olson, Darro's handler, has been with UAPD for two years and four months. He said he was chosen because of his good work ethic and decision making.

Olson said the K-9 is a great asset to officers and the department.

Both Olson and Darro will not be certified until January 1997, he said. Olson said he and Darro will have to complete 150 hours of training, which will be difficult because Olson is also training five new officers.

Olson said he now has to get to know Darro.

K-9s are a great tool for narcotics investigations and helpful in tracking suspects, Olson said.

He also said if people see the dog, it gives them a reason to stop and talk to the officer.

"This is when the public asks the 'why' questions and gives us an opportunity to educate the public and give safety tips," Olson said.

"I encourage the UA community to come up and meet the dog and ask questions," Olson said.

Darro will be involved in UAPD's activities with demonstrations and public speaking, Haywood said. He said the K-9 will be available to other agencies, such as TPD, as Jos was.

Olson said the department really needs the K-9. People who think otherwise are unaware of the value of such a dog.

"With education comes understanding," he said.

Thomas said the majority of the officers in the department are excited and have a positive attitude about Darro.

After hours, Darro will go home with Olson and live with him. Olson said he wants to make the dog part of his family and use him at home.

UAPD has two other police dogs in service. Both work at the Mount Graham International Observatory.