DNR K9 saves the dayThe Cloquet Police Department got a helping hand – and highly trained nose – from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Friday after an alleged shoplifter threw a BB-pellet handgun into the woods behind Zion Lutheran Church in Cloquet.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
The Cloquet Police Department got a helping hand – and highly trained nose – from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Friday after an alleged shoplifter threw a BB-pellet handgun into the woods behind Zion Lutheran Church in Cloquet.
Cloquet Police Sergeant Tory Cawcutt said police got a call from a loss prevention employee at Wal-Mart in Cloquet on Friday reporting a shoplifter was fleeing the store and was in the wooded area between the carwash and coffee shop on Stanley Avenue and Zion Lutheran Church on Washington Avenue.
Cawcutt responded and parked at Zion Lutheran. Shortly thereafter, according to Cawcutt, a man exited the wooded area, and when Cawcutt identified himself the man ran away from him.
“I caught up with him after about 40 yards and took him into custody,” Cawcutt said.
However, the man – identified by Cawcutt as Kent Olson of Cloquet – only had the gun manual in his possession, not the gun itself. The wooded area between the two streets is at least half an acre, and a lengthy search didn’t turn up anything.
That’s when Cawcutt contacted Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Scott Staples and his K9 partner Schody to see if the pair could do an article search of the woods.
Looking after dark, the initial two-hour search was unsuccessful. However, Staples and Schody looked again on Saturday and found the discarded BB gun in some tall grass near a pine tree. Staples said in the daylight he could see two areas of thick grass that they hadn’t noticed the night before. Schody found nothing in the first site, but the K9 was searching the second grassy area for only a couple minutes when “his head shot under grass and he came up with the gun in his mouth,” Staples said.
“It was almost 24 hours later when Schody found that gun,” Cawcutt said. “That’s impressive. It was great for evidence, but it’s also nice to recover the gun for safety reasons, especially if a little kid were to find that gun. There are trails back there that a lot of people use to travel back and forth.”
The biggest difference between the dogs used by police and those used by the Minnesota DNR is training, Staples said. DNR K9s are trained to detect fish and game rather than narcotics. However, like a police patrol dog, Schody has been trained to detect and retrieve “articles,” basically anything that’s been touched by a human recently. Staples said that could be anything from a credit card to a set of keys, a matchbook or a gun.
“For testing, we have to retrieve two different articles,” Staples said, noting that the tests are usually done within 10-15 minutes [of a person touching the item] in 30- by 35-foot pads. “In the real world, you work what you can with them. I’ve never done a search that long afterward, it kind of surprised me. I’m guessing that the gun still had some human odor on it that he grabbed it and picked it up.”
Staples said he and Schody are happy to help local law enforcement when they can.
“Right now Schody is the only K9 on the street [in Carlton County] actually trained for article detection, aside from the prison dogs in Moose Lake,” Staples said, noting that he and Schody have been working together for just over a year. “He’s still pretty new, but he loves to search for stuff.”
Kent Bruce Olson, 34, appeared Monday in Carlton County Court and was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday morning on two misdemeanor charges including theft and fleeing a police officer by means other than a motor vehicle.