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Going to the dogs: Worthington hosts regional U.S. Police Canine Association K-9 trials

WORTHINGTON -- Saturday in Worthington, people may have noticed an increased presence of law enforcement in the city, particularly at Worthington Middle School. No, it wasn't a natural disaster or large-scale emergency that brought officers from ...

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Winona County Deputy Adam Carlson and his K-9 partner Cleo search a vehicle Saturday during the Region 12 USPCA K-9 Trials in Worthington. (Submitted photo)

WORTHINGTON - Saturday in Worthington, people may have noticed an increased presence of law enforcement in the city, particularly at Worthington Middle School.
No, it wasn’t a natural disaster or large-scale emergency that brought officers from across Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin to southwest Minnesota. It was the Region 12 United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) K-9 trials.
The USPCA is a national organization that has regions across the country for law enforcement officers and their canine partners. The association provides standards canine officers and their handlers are expected to maintain. Each team is certified annually in obedience and detection.
Worthington Police Officer Colby Palmersheim said this past weekend marked one of the first times Worthington has been chosen as a host site in a number of years.
“We had 55 K-9 teams attend and the trial was a huge success,” Palmersheim said.
The teams were tested in narcotics detection during the event. Teams searched for drugs in both vehicles and rooms. The USPCA requires testing for at least three different narcotics including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine or certified derivatives of the substances.
At the regional level, marijuana may also be tested but can be omitted. A minimum of five grams of each substance is required, and the testing aids must be placed where the dog cannot retrieve or come into contact with the drug.
For the vehicle test, five vehicles must be used and can be of any type or model including automobiles, trucks, buses, airplanes or even boats. The dogs can be asked to search the exterior or interior of the vehicles for the narcotics.
In indoor searches, dogs are asked to search three separate rooms that are a minimum of 200 square feet. For the testing, two of the three rooms will have a hidden drug in it. 
Vehicles were donated for the event from a few local businesses and, in addition to WMS, teams searched the Worthington Fire Hall and the bus garage.
“I really want to thank Marthaler Ford for letting us use a group of vehicles, Mick’s Repair for letting us use their vehicles, Chris Kielblock for letting us use the District 518 bus garage, Worthington Fire Department for letting us use the fire hall, the Worthington Middle School for using their classrooms and the Comfort Suites for lodging the K-9 teams,” Palmersheim said. 
In order to receive certification, the USPCA requires a minimum score of 140 out of 200 possible points. Both the handler and the dog’s performances are judged. The dog is critiqued in the response to the area along with how the dog alerts to the presence of a narcotic. The handler in turn may be judged on attitude, not interpreting the dog’s alert and not properly controlling the dog among other criteria. All three of Worthington’s K-9 officers, -Thor, Mack and Frank’ee - certified Saturday with high scores. Palmersheim and Thor finished second in room hides.

Related Topics: POLICE
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