Florida prisons have got the top dogs

State prison K-9 Inspector Cora Romer and her dog, Annie, took first place in last month's Southern Coast K-9 Bomb and Drug Detection competition. (Courtesy of the Florida Department of Corrections)

Via Gainesville Sun:

Florida’s prisons are now home to two of the top K9 teams in the Southeast and to 20 sets of certified canines and their handlers.

According to the Florida Department of Corrections, this is the fifth consecutive year that the Florida Department of Corrections’ Drug Interdiction Teams won the top spots in the Southern Coast K-9 Bomb and Drug Detection competition.

This year’s competition drew 120 teams from around the nation and from the Cayman Islands to Daytona Beach.
Florida re-instated prison K9 teams just over five years ago and since then has consistently ranked in the top 25 percent of competitors at the annual event.

The head of the state program, Inspector Supervisor Kevin Dean, said the top finisher in this year’s contest was K-9 Inspector Cora Romer and her canine partner Annie, a black lab.Second place went to K-9 Inspector Chris Mears and Harley, who is also a black lab.

Both top teams are stationed in the Panhandle, but like the other 18 teams in Florida’s prisons, they can be called to any part of the state at any time.

“We have five K9s in each of our four prison regions,” Dean said. “They really have no boundary lines so if we need to flood an institution for a search, we can take all 20 dogs at one time.”

State prison K-9 Inspector Chris Mears and his black lab partner named Harley.

In a news release, prison officials said the competition is a chance for teams from law enforcement agencies, correctional agencies, and private security firms to compete to see which K9 handler and partner can most efficiently locate hidden contraband.

Each handler and dog must visit every site in the contest. This year the sites included an airport, a hospital, an auto auction and a police department, prison officials said. The handlers and the canine partners were graded at each site by instructors and the scores at each site were averaged to determine the top finishers.

Immediately after the competition, all 20 of the prison system’s K9 teams were re-certified by the American Canine Detection Association.

The value of the work the K9 teams do in Florida can be determined in part by the volume of contraband they locate.

During the first five months of the fiscal year that began July 1st, work by the Contraband Interdiction Unit led to 27 arrests. Those arrested were visitors and inmates who violated the state’s contraband policies at state prisons.

During the same five months, prison officials said the K9s and their handlers recovered the following items during prison searches:

  • Marijuana – 1,732 grams
  • Synthetic THC (AKA K-2 Spice) – 578 grams
  • Alcohol – 108 gallons (commercial and homemade)
  • Cocaine – 23 grams
  • Sharps – 99 (homemade and commercial)
  • Cell phones – 14
  • Firearms (in parking lots) 9
  • Ammunition (in parking lots) 206

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