Sniffer dog to join Warrnambool police in war on drugs

Leading Senior Constable Kathy Koop puts drug-detection dog Quantum to work. Photo: EDDIE JIM
Leading Senior Constable Kathy Koop puts drug-detection dog Quantum to work. Photo: EDDIE JIM

A DRUG-DETECTING police dog will be based in Warrnambool within weeks, Premier Denis Napthine announced before the release of a major drugs report today.

Sniffer dogs located in regional centres are one of 50 measures expected to be detailed in a parliamentary inquiry report covering the methamphetamine scourge, a drug known colloquially as ice.

Eight “passive alert detection dogs” will be based in key regional cities as part of a $1.6 million initiative over the next four years.

Dr Napthine said the dog would be transported to Warrnambool “immediately,” adding other measures would be revealed today to address the growing social problems caused by substance abuse.

“These dogs will be used when police attend functions, when attending venues and when making home visits to detect drugs and drug dealing,” the Premier told The Standard last night.

“They will be used throughout south-west Victoria, whether it’s Warrnambool, Portland or Hamilton. 

“Unfortunately, ice and other drugs have become far too prevalent and we are implementing measures to tackle this problem head on.”

The release of today’s 1000-page report comes after an exhaustive parliamentary inquiry into the social implications of methamphetamine production, trafficking and use statewide. Inquiry committee members visited Warrnambool in March, during which senior police officers described drug use as “rampant” across the region.

Dr Napthine, who is also South West Coast MP, said other measures contained in the inquiry’s report would also directly address drug-related violence and associated behaviour in south-west Victoria. 

Labor’s candidate for Western Victoria, Jacinta Ermacora, said it had taken the Napthine Government four  years to act on the growing drug crisis in the south-west.  

“One dog won’t fix our ice epidemic,” she said. 

“Drug offences in our region have doubled in the past 12 months and as a result lives are being ruined and families are being destroyed.

“The Premier ought to admit that his government has failed to make our region safer.”

 Police Minister Kim Wells said the sniffer dogs — capable of detecting ice, speed, heroin, cannabis, ecstasy and GHB — would allow police to carry out more raids and break up more clandestine laboratories.

“Make no mistake — if you make or deal in drugs you will be caught,” Mr Wells said. “Those additional PAD dogs will assist Victoria Police in targeted drug operations and the execution of search warrants across the state.”

Victoria Police currently have 45 dogs in the squad used for tasks such as firearms and explosive detection, search and rescue and tracking. 

There are currently nine drug dogs. 

“For the majority of the time, the dogs live with their handlers at different locations around the state. They are deployed daily to assist with police matters,” Dog Squad Acting Inspector Charmaine Hosking said.

“We welcome the government’s announcement, which provides the dog squad with more resources to detect and fight the issue of drugs in our society.”