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County’s K-9 unit hits the ground running

Posted 3/25/14 (Tue)

By Stephanie Norman
Farmer Staff Writer

The McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office recently welcomed a new and exciting addition to the agency and the added tool is already showing positive results. For the first time in the agency’s history, deputies have a K-9 available to assist in their law enforcement efforts to better serve the community.
Deputy Travis Bateman was selected as the handler and traveled to Denver, Ind., in late January and completed six weeks of training at Vohne Liche Kennels. There, he selected and trained with his K-9 partner, Canello, and the team was certified on March 7.
Canello and the training course was made possible following the awarding of grant funds from the North Dakota Land Board in November 2013. The grant provided for the necessary vehicle and training equipment, dog handler’s course, and dog to be purchased.
Canello is a two-year-old, male Belgian Malinois. Deputy Bateman and Canello are trained and certified in narcotics detection, tracking, suspect apprehension, and Canello is also trained in officer protection. He is known in the K-9 industry as a dual purpose dog. The only other dual purpose dogs in the area are with the Dickinson and Minot police departments.
A dual purpose K-9 program was selected for the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office as it allows the dog team to handle more situations than a single purpose dog.  All that is occurring with the growth in population and the incidents facing law enforcement in the region was a large deciding factor in the type of dog program to start.
Tuesday, March 11, was Canello’s first day in service on the streets of McKenzie County, and it was a week that was right up his alley. As recently announced to the press, the area was witness to a large saturation operation by the Northwest Narcotics Task Force on March 12 and 13. Deputy Bateman and K-9 Canello were requested to assist at several traffic stops during the operation resulting in several seizures of narcotics, drug money, and the detaining of illegal immigrants.
On the morning of Thursday, March 13, McKenzie County deputies responded to an oil rig site near Arnegard for a man with a gun on the premises. The man fled from the location on foot prior to the arrival of law enforcement. A vehicle involved with the suspect was also spotted and followed by employees of the rig site and deputies conducted a high risk traffic stop of that vehicle, assisted by troopers with the North Dakota Highway Patrol. Two men were detained from that vehicle and law enforcement then moved to track down the armed man.
K-9 Canello was used to track the suspect from the rig site and the man was then spotted running from authorities by Sheriff John Fulwider about a half mile from the rig site. Deputy Bateman and K-9 Canello pursued the suspect after the man refused to halt. K-9 Canello was deployed after the man refused to halt and gave up only after the K-9 was about to apprehend him. The man was then taken into custody and arrested for Terrorizing.
There were indicators of drug involvement and the two men in the car refused consent on a search of the vehicle. K-9 Canello was requested and an exterior search of the vehicle indicated a positive indicator of the presence of drugs. Deputies then searched the vehicle with probable cause due to the dog’s positive indication to the presence of drugs and removed methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia from the vehicle.
Charged in the case is Ronald Edward Stewart II for possession of a controlled substance - methamphetamine; Jonathan James McKinney for possession of a controlled substance - methamphetamine; and Donny Ron Wagner for criminal trespass and terrorizing.
Thursday, March 13 continued to prove to be busy and eventful as the K-9 team was requested at a traffic stop near Alexander by the North Dakota Highway Patrol. That stop resulted in a positive indication to the presence of drugs in a vehicle and the seizure of marijuana and methamphetamine, resulting in the arrest of Jessica Mann and Jeffrey Heincke. Both were charged with Class A Misdemeanor and Class C Felony possession of drug paraphernalia
After that search, the team was asked to respond to another traffic stop in Watford City by the Watford City Police Department and narcotics task force. The K-9 alerted to the exterior of that vehicle as well and a search of the interior yielded marijuana, methamphetamine, and drug paraphernalia. The Watford City Police Department arrested Gricelda Gonzalez for unlawful use of plates, possession of drug paraphernalia (Class C Felony) and possession of marijuana (Class B Misdemeanor).
McKenzie County law enforcement is very thankful to have another tool in its toolbox as it works to stem the flow of criminal activity in the area and looks forward to the added use of K-9 Canello and his abilities.