Sedona Okay-9 crew hits three-year mark

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It’s been three years since Sedona cop Jon Reed teamed up with his current partner, who just goes by one name – Max.

The two have teamed up and are still one of the few K-9 units in all of northern Arizona. those as well trained as Reed and Max are especially rare. While assigned to Sedona, the couple often assist nearby agencies with a variety of calls, but mostly drug-related ones.

Max is a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois, a breed that has become increasingly popular with law enforcement agencies over the past decade because they are faster than most breeds, including German Shepherds, and Malinois are lighter and have fewer health problems than larger dogs.

Max is unique when it comes to K-9s in the state. He’s a so-called K-9 with three scents, which means he’s trained to detect methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine. Most of those on duty now are also trained to sniff marijuana. With medical marijuana legalization increasing in recent years – and now that recreational use is legal in Arizona – many of the existing K-9s in the state are forced to retire early because they are marijuana certified and may falsely signal that This is a legal drug during a search for illegal drugs.

“When people have medical marijuana and now with Prop 207 [which legal­ized its use in Arizona]He’s one of the few working dogs right now, ”said Reed. “Any time someone has meth or heroin in the car and has a weed card, the marijuana-trained dogs can’t sniff that vehicle for probable reasons.”

The Arizona Department of Health issues medical marijuana cards to patients who demonstrate they can legally possess the drug.

“If an agency thinks they have any of these other drugs and the person has a weed card, they have to give me a call because Max is one of the few dogs trained on the harder drugs,” Reed said.

Reed said many new dogs will be trained and certified on these three tougher drugs over the next six months since marijuana is legal.

“Some agencies are trying to keep their dogs, but it’s difficult from a legal perspective,” said Reed. “If you’re not just doing highway bans where people are smuggling large amounts of marijuana from Arizona to other states, you can still use the marijuana dogs. Everything, especially in cities, you have to have a three-smell dog.

“The main reason we chose heroin, cocaine, and meth training was because we knew it was inevitable [legalization of mari­juana], just with the way things were going. Even only the medical part of it affected the K-9. It was an advantage for us to leave that [marijuana] from his training. “

Reed and Max work frequently with neighboring agencies, including the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and the Verde Valley Police Department.

Max was involved in several of the larger drug busts along Interstate 17 – or in a paw. That included hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine and thousands of fentanyl pills.

Reed said that while there are drugs in Sedona, it’s often like “finding a needle in a haystack” searching for those Max is trained to be. They are not as common as in neighboring communities, he said, which is why their support is often requested.

But if that’s the case, then why do you need a K-9 unit in Sedona?

“First, because a lot of the people who use drugs in Cottonwood, Camp Verde, Cornville and Rimrock commute to work here,” he said. “It’s there, but it’s Sedona. so it’s harder to find. “

Another reason Sedona has a K-9 is because of a domino effect. When Max helps out a drug bankruptcy in a neighboring community or county, many of those people come to Sedona to commit petty crimes to support their habit.

“If we can help get 50,000 fentanyl pills off the streets, many lives will be saved,” Reed said. “I can’t guarantee that any of these pills would have found their way to Sedona, but they could. I understand that there are a lot of people who want our K-9 to be used exclusively in Sedona, but for me I want it to have the greatest possible impact in our community and region. “

Stephanie Foley, who served as the K-9 officer with her partner Dalan before Reed, said she knew firsthand about all of the extra work that goes into the position.

“K-9 Officer Reed and K-9 Max are a well trained and highly motivated team,” she said. “Reed is available at all times to support our department and other agencies in need. Max excels at both narcotics detection and patrol work. Officer Reed has improved the K-9 program for the Sedona Police Department with his hard work, training, and dedication. “

Like all other K-9s, Max lives with his trainer. And while he’s a dog, that doesn’t mean the job doesn’t take its toll like any other officer.

“He’s great, but we had to learn some of his quirks and triggers,” said Reed. “Like officers, first responders, or the military, with anything we’ve given them, this can cause anxiety and PTSD in a dog as much as it does in humans.

“He’s still great at work when it comes to loud noises and gunfire, but he doesn’t like thunderstorms. He walks up and down and gets scared, ”Reed said.

“Overall, he’s made a huge impact on our community through drug anxiety and has been a great deterrent to the use of force,” he said. “Through some of our SWAT missions, he honestly saved the officers’ lives by not having to go in and deal with an armed person. That in itself means everything to me. “

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