The two Key West Department police K-9 teams have hit the jackpot twice.
First, Rocky and Trapper alerted on a safe containing about $89,000 in cash on their very first case back in March, 2000, leading to the arrest of a major player in the Key West drug scene. Now, some of the department's 80 percent share of the forfeited money will pay for a new, state-of-the-art K-9 training facility. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration recently sent the department a check for $66-950.
"The dogs paid for themselves and all the training they and their officers underwent with this one debut," Sgt. Ed Stress, head of the K-9 unit, said.
Corey McIntosh, now 46, was charged with possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon after the Key West Police Department's Street Crimes Unit served a search warrant on his Julia Street house on March 17, 2000. Rocky and Trapper, assisted by their partners, Officers Joshua Laino and Dave Black. respectively, alerted on a safe on a closet floor under a pile of clothing.
Street Crimes detectives forced it open, finding a large, brown paper bag containing 89 bundles of cash of about $1,000 each. Black and Laino said the dogs would alert only if the money had been close to drugs. Serial numbers on two of the bills matched numbers on money detectives used earlier in controlled buys during their investigation. McIntosh pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years of probation plus he paid a fine and court costs.
"Now, it's payback time," Stress declared.
The dog training facility, to be located at the old Hawk missile site near Key West Airport, is basically a specialized and very demanding obstacle course for the dogs, he said.
Equipment includes three hurdles, a window hurdle, a broad jump, a dog crawl tube, a catwalk and a box search setup. Officially called a Law Enforcement Canine Accredited Agility Course, that, plus three laptop computers for the three K-9 Unit patrol cars and other needed equipment will cost $30,000. K-9 teams from other law enforcement agencies will be welcome to use the course, Stress added.
Stress said he would start ordering as soon as the Key West City Commission approves the expenditures, which is expected to be in a meeting within the next few months. The course should be up-and-running about six weeks later.