New canine unit making drug crimes more difficult in TomahawkSubmitted: 06/14/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

TOMAHAWK - The Tomahawk Police Department saw some major staffing changes in the past year. There's a new police chief, and it got its first non-human member.

The department launched a major crackdown on drug crimes in the area. Now, that newest member has hit the streets to help them out.

Meet Vali, Tomahawk's new drug dog. Vali and her partner Officer Ryan Picl have only been on the job together for two weeks. But in that short time, Vali already shows major promise.

"We've deployed her six times on cars and she's alerted on every one of them. And items have been found inside each car," says Picl.

Vali isn't a patrol dog. That means she doesn't chase and bring down suspects. But she can track people, and she's trained to find all kinds of drugs.

"She's trained for marijuana, coke, methamphetamine, opiate base like heroin and amphetamines," says Picl.

For the canine handler, it's a 24 hour a day, seven day a week commitment. Chief Al Elvins says Picl is the right man for the job.

"Ryan's got a drive and he's able to be aggressive without showing an aggressive nature to people. If he knows that his job is to go out there and make the street safer that's what he's going to do rain, shine, day or night," says Chief Elvins.

The duo will be instrumental in the department's effort to make it harder for people to bring drugs into the community. The drug crackdown has already been successful. In past years, the most drug cases Tomahawk police have had was 84. This year, they've already reached 101, and it's only June.

"We're getting a lot of kudos, but it's nothing I've done. The only thing that I've done in this department is taken the handcuffs off the officers and told them to do their job," says Chief Elvins.

The police have another partner: the community.

"The Animal Clinic of Tomahawk, Dr. Julie has gone above and beyond for us. She's given us all her services for free. One vendor that she had gave us food for life so it's absolutely no cost to the taxpayers," says ," says Chief Elvins.

If people keep contributing the way they have been, there will be enough in the canine fund to bring another dog onto the force when Vali retires.

You can contribute to the canine fund by contacting the Tomahawk Police Department.

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