Saginaw County is taking a new approach to prevent illegal drugs from entering the Saginaw County Jail.
Semi,' the sheriff department's newest hire, is a golden lab who can sniff-out illegal drugs.
"Yesterday was actually his first official day in the jail and we conducted a few shake downs, and he alerted," said Saginaw County Sergeant Marsha Austin.
Saturday, his scratching told Austin to check out a toilet paper roll where deputies believe drugs were once hidden.
Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel hopes Semi will act as a deterrent.
"When the inmates know that we have a dog that can sniff out their drugs, they will spread the word," Federspiel said.
According to Federspiel, on average, deputies find illegal drugs at the Saginaw County Jail 40- 50 times a year.
"If those are the ones we found.... We really don't know the true number," Federspiel said.
Semi is trained to find six different narcotics including marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, Oxycontin and Ecstasy.
Austin has never been a K-9 handler before, but applied for the position when it was created. Now, Austin and Semi are inseparable.
"We go to work together, we go home together, and he's my partner just like any other officer," Austin said.
Semi was hand-selected to work in the jail because he's from a non-aggressive breed that would work well alongside inmates. Semi's smaller size has been a benefit as well.
"He gets right up in the cabinets and up on counters, makes it a lot easier to do my work," Austin said.
And if Semi finds any inmates with illegal drugs, their time at the jail will likely last longer.
"It's [having drugs in the jail] an automatic felony, so you may be in only for a misdemeanor...you're going to get charged with a felony," Federspiel said.
Semi, his food and his training is paid for through a drug forfeiture fund.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
COMMENT: My main interest in this was the mention the dog had been trained for Oxycontin