The Pinal County K-9 Unit is a
criminal interdiction unit and it is their mission to aid in the Sheriff's Office
Mission of Preserving Peace, Protecting Life and Property, and promote Public Safety
while upholding the United States and Arizona Constitutions. The Pinal County Sheriff’s
Office has been using K-9’s to serve and protect the County of Pinal for more than
40-years. It was created to supplement our Patrol and Investigative divisions in
a reactive manner by responding to assist those divisions when the deployment of
a Police Service Dog would result in increased officer safety. Today's primary focus
of the K-9 Unit is a proactive approach to the interdiction of criminal activity
entering and passing through Pinal County along major roadways and highways. This
is primarily accomplished by taking traffic enforcement action to initiated contacts
with motorists. The K-9 Unit will also deploy into and around communities as well
as assist with school inspections to identify and disrupt criminal activity.
Each of the K-9 Handler team are
dual purpose certified. This means that each of our K-9's are trained to assist
our Deputies by tapping into the dogs stronger than human senses of smell, hearing
and vision. Police Service Dogs can search buildings, open areas and vehicles using
their senses in a manner that's quicker, safer and more efficient than deputies
alone. Using the Police Service Dog in this capacity results in an increased level
of safety for the Deputy. Additionally, using K-9s improves the efficiency of a
search allowing the deputies to resume normal duties in an expedited manner.
Pinal County Sheriff's Office K-9 Unit consists of six handler teams and is led
by Sergeant Rory Skedel. Four of the handler teams are sworn and support Patrol.
Two more handler teams are civilian employees and are assigned to the Adult Detention
Center to assist in maintaining order and detect any contraband attempting to be
smuggled into the Adult Detention Facility. Each Handler team, sworn and civilian,
participates in a New Handler Academy when they come into the unit. Upon completion
of the academy each handler team's performance is audited to determine if they meet
standards established in the TacDogs K-9 Handler program. Once they meet performance
standards, they become certified and must re-certify biannually to be able to continue
to deploy with their Patrol Service Dog. Following certification, each handler team
also participates in ongoing in service training so to ensure performance standards
are consistently met.
In addition to supporting our Patrol,
Investigations, and Detention divisions, the Sheriff's Office frequently attends
various public safety awareness events during which the make-up of the unit is discussed
and the capabilities of our Patrol Service Dogs are demonstrated to the public that
are attending. Finally, the K-9 Unit regularly partners with the schools throughout
Pinal County to assist with school inspections in an attempt to identify any current
criminal activity taking place as well as dissuade future potential criminal conduct
from taking place on the school campus.
Since January 1st, 2017, the Pinal County Sheriff's Office K-9 Unit was directly responsible for the recovery of over 273.5 pounds of marijuana, four pounds of heroin, over seven pounds of methamphetamine, and over 60 pounds of Cocaine. The Pinal County Sheriff's Office K-9 Unit also has seized $503,528 in US currency smuggled in an effort to further criminal organizations. Our four sworn handler teams have accomplished this by conducting over 1,256 traffic stops, affecting 57 misdemeanor arrests and 38 felony arrests, and responding to over 249 calls for service where a Police Service Dog could be utilized. Our two Detention Handlers have conducted over 3,233 cell sniffs, 1,093 visitor inmate screen sniffs, 475 vehicle sniffs and 1,800 laundry bags.
Our K-9 Unit is an incredible asset to the Sheriff's Office and the citizens of Pinal County. The K-9 Unit's Handler Teams are constantly working to maintain their proficiency, take self-initiated action to detect and apprehend criminal offenders, and support other bureaus within the Sheriff's Office with Pride, Honor and in a professional manner that meets the expectations of the community it serves.