‘Officers collapsed from aerosolized fentanyl’: Concerns over K-9s not trained to detect the drug

Seattle — While fentanyl overdoses soar to record levels, concerns have grown over the fact that police K-9s in Washington aren’t actually trained to detect the drug.

This week state representatives discussed House Bill 1635, which calls for police K-9s to be trained to detect fentanyl.

“Fentanyl is an epidemic at all odds with safety and people in Washington state, and this particular drug, I think if not for the COVID epidemic, would be the number one epidemic across the state,” said WA State Rep. Gina Mosbrucker for District 14.

The bill calls for training standards to be developed by the Criminal Justice Training Commission by Dec. 1, 2024.

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs has said it supports the bill.

“We’ve had officers both in Washington and in other states that have simply collapsed while in contact with somebody because of aerosolized fentanyl coming out of somebody’s car,” said James McMahan, policy director for the association.

This year King County has already reported 64 fentanyl-related deaths. Last year the county reported 699 deaths, a tremendous jump from 2021 with 385 deaths.

Right now, law enforcement K-9s are only trained to detect meth, heroin and cocaine.

Over in Chelan County the jail has started training one of their dogs, Kait.

This is an issue that is affecting the jail, last study I heard is that we had 72% of our inmates coming into the correctional facility with fentanyl in their system,” said Chelan County Sheriff Mike Morrison.

Last year Chelan County correctional officers found 50 fentanyl pills on a man booked into the jail prior to Kait’s training.

The bill is in the beginning stages. It still needs to go through the House and Senate floor.