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In the Pipeline: K-9 unit deserves your help

February 10, 2014|By Chris Epting
  • Huntington Beach Police Officer Casey Thomas with Bodhy.
Huntington Beach Police Officer Casey Thomas with Bodhy. (Chris Epting, HB…)

At the going rate, 27 kilos of cocaine will fetch $1.3 million on the street.

But the cost of finding such a cache? The price of a dog's chew toy.

After all, that's all Bohdy ever wants in return for uncovering dope, chasing down bad guys or performing other heroic acts.

Bohdy is one of two magnificent Belgian Malinois shepherds in the Huntington Beach Police Department's K-9 division.

He made big news last week when he sniffed out some drugs. It all started with a routine traffic stop near the end of Edinger Avenue by the Huntington Harbour marina. The HBPD requested a backup car.

Officer Casey Thomas was nearby with his partner, Bohdy.

"We were just in the area coincidentally so we went over there," Thomas said several days later. "By law, we're allowed to have the dog run around the car to check things out if people are being rightfully detained. Once I saw Bohdy give the alert, which he does by scratching the ground, we knew something might be up. For Bohdy, it's all about the toy. Everything he does is just about getting that reward. That's how these dogs are trained."

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Moments later, 5-year-old Bohdy got the reward, a simple rope toy, and the cops recovered the 27 kilos of cocaine. The two suspects arrested were arraigned Jan. 30 and are awaiting a preliminary hearing.

Currently, the HBPD employs two dogs: Bohdy and Marco. As Capt. Russell Reinhart — who worked K-9 early in his career — explained to me, the police force at one time had four dogs in its K-9 division and would like to reach that number again soon.

Watching these highly trained, enormously efficient animals makes one understand why cops want more of them on the force.

The dogs are much different at home, where they live with their respective handler-officers.

"Bohdy is a wonderful family pet," Thomas said. "But once he gets to work, it's all business. He feeds off the energy of the officers around him."

Marco is the same way.

"Something just seems to click once they put the police vest on," said his handler, Officer Wade Wilson. "These are very intelligent animals that seem to have an understanding of what is at stake out there."

In addition to protecting the officers in the field, the dogs are trained to identify five distinct narcotic scents: cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, ecstasy and marijuana.

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