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Corrections officer to fund K9 training

May 09, 2018
OSSIPEE — A County corrections officer has offered up his own GI Bill education funding to bring a drug sniffing canine to work at the county jail.

Justin Corliss, employed at the jail since 2012 and recently promoted to sergeant, will spend two weeks in Texas in training with the K9. Corliss brought the offer to the county commissioners' May 2 meeting. The board voted unanimously to cover the cost of Corliss' airfare and lodging while in San Antonio.

The 80-hour course, offered through Universal K9, begins in June will provide a trained dog and train Corliss to be its handler. According the company's website, Corliss will learn the proper techniques in canine safety and care; obedience training; detection dog training; patrol dog training; search patterns; scent theory; safe handling of explosives and narcotics; and validation and legal considerations.

In exchange for Corliss paying for the dog and the initial training, he asked that the county fund the dog's annual veterinarian appointment and future annual three-day trips to Texas for training. Corliss will own the dog and will be responsible for its care and any other related expenses. He will not find out what type of dog it is – German Sheppard, Dutch Sheppard, or Malinois – until he gets to Texas in June.

Jail Superintendent Jason Henry said there has been a "huge" rise in substance use issues at the jail and having the K9 will be of great benefit to the staff and the inmates. In fact, he said, in all of his years in law enforcement he has never been bombarded with so many substance use-related issues as are happening right now at the jail and he doesn't see the problem going away anytime soon. Henry said the K9 is not a "silver bullet" but one tool in the effort to slow the issues down and make everyone at the facility safer.

The dog will be specifically trained to detect the drugs Fentanyl and Suboxone and perhaps others. County Administrator Ken Robichaud inserted that Suboxone is "the thing we find most often at the jail and on the side of the road" and added that "it's easy, it's thin and it's in a waterproof packet. Suboxone, or its generic equivalent buprenorphine is approved by the Federal Drug Administration for use in the treatment of opioid dependence. While it is a legal prescription drug, it is not used or allowed inside the jail.

In addition to its drug sniffing expertise inside the jail, the dog will be used to patrol the county grounds seeking out illegal substances and will also be trained in detesting explosives and searching for missing people.

Commissioner Amanda Bevard lauded Corliss, and said the fact he is willing to go through the training and provide his dog to the County is "just remarkable."

The commissioners will not meet May 9 due to county heads and other staff attending a two-day summit at Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods. Corliss is expected to attend the May 16 commissioner's meeting to present a memorandum of understanding, addressing the details of the K9 agreement, including the costs and liability.

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