Cloquet City Council meets Cloquet’s newest police officerRaja — a new K9 officer with the Cloquet Police Department — and her handler, Cloquet Police Detective Scott Holman, gave a demonstration of Raja’s drug-sniffing talents for the City Council, Mayor Bruce Ahlgren and other city officials to start the council meeting.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Tuesday’s Cloquet City Council meeting was unusual. First, a Cloquet police detective hid a packet of marijuana in a fake phone, next a highly energetic female Dutch Shepherd dog ran around the room sniffing furniture and people until she found it, at which point she simply sat down and pointed at the phone with her nose.
Raja — a new K9 officer with the Cloquet Police Department — and her handler, Cloquet Police Detective Scott Holman, gave a demonstration of Raja’s drug-sniffing talents for the City Council, Mayor Bruce Ahlgren and other city officials to start the council meeting.
Holman said Raja is trained to detect nine different drug odors. In her two weeks on the job, she and Holman helped execute a search warrant and Raja discovered methamphetamine. They also assisted the Minnesota State Patrol on a traffic stop where she sniffed out some hidden marijuana.
The Cloquet Police Department had been without a K9 officer since the department’s long-time award-winning Tessa was euthanized in August 2012 due to health issues. Tessa and Holman were responsible for the recovery of more than a million dollars’ worth of illegal drugs in Carlton County and surrounding areas in the 12 years the pair partnered in Cloquet.
Tuesday’s demonstration was her second; the brindle-colored short-haired dog had also visited a local Girl Scout troop.
“This dog has a much better disposition around the public and children,” Cloquet Police Chief Wade Lamirande explained. “We think that’s a bonus.”
Lamirande talked about how valuable the narcotics K9 officer is to the department.
“We save on manpower, because she is able to search large areas in a shorter amount of time,” he said. “Right now there is only one other narcotics-trained dog in the county, with the Fond du Lac police.”
In answer to Councilor David Bjerkness question about whether the city bills other police departments for assistance provided, Lamirande said “no.”
“It’s mutual aid really,” he said. “If we get a bomb threat, we call the Duluth police or the 148th out.”
Lamirande previously shared the following quick facts about K9 officers:
+ A dog’s sense of smell is almost 50 times more sensitive than humans.
+ The presence of a police dog can prevent physical confrontation, thus lessening the chances of officers getting injured.
+ Police dogs can “pay for themselves” in the form of drug busts, seizures and saving staff time, during searches, for example.
Find video of Tuesday’s Council meeting at www.youtube.com/thecat7tv.
In an otherwise short meeting Tuesday, City Councilors and the Mayor voted unanimously to amend Chapters 6 and 7 of the city code, pertaining to smoking and tobacco products to include electronic cigarettes. The definition of smoking was amended to include e-cigarettes or pipes, basically any device used to deliver nicotine or other substances to a person by inhaling from the device.
The staff report noted the following:
“Proponents of e-cigarettes claim these products are safer to use than traditional tobacco products and do not expose bystanders to the risk of secondhand smoke. Yet concern about the lack of scientific data on e-cigarettes has caused a growing number of state and local governments to prohibit their use in various public places — often under existing or new smoke-free laws.”