Seattle Police Foundation raising money to buy drug detection dogs for SPD

SEATTLE — The Seattle Police Foundation is raising money to help buy drug detection dogs for the department.

“We have noticed in the community there is an incredible uptick throughout King County of fentanyl overdoses and narcotics overdoses that are claiming victims that are younger and younger,” said SPD Assistant Chief Deanna Nollette.

Last year in Washington state, overdose deaths spiked — increasing by 38% in the first half of the year compared to the first half of 2019.

The state says most of that jump came from deaths involving fentanyl, a very strong opioid.

And now there’s a new drug, a synthetic version of fentanyl called carfentanil, which is 100 times stronger than fentanyl and already linked to several overdoses in Whatcom County.

In March, SPD shared photos of 2 drug busts where they seized more than 400,000 fentanyl pills.

The department believes drug detection dogs can be a powerful tool to get more drugs off the streets.

“They have a smell, sensory perception that we obviously don’t have. And so they’re able to, in narcotics field, they’re able to identify drugs hidden in location that we may miss with a hand search,” said Lt. Eric Barden with SPD’s Narcotics Unit.

SPD says it used to have drug detection dogs, but when marijuana was legalized, some of the dogs were forced into retirement because they couldn’t separate what was illegal from what wasn’t. SPD has been making do without, sometimes borrowing another agency’s drug dogs.

The Seattle Police Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to raising money for SPD, is stepping up to raise money for the dogs. According to the Foundation, it has bought patrol dogs for the canine unit since 2003 because they’ve never been in the city budget.

“This allows us to reach out to the community who wants to have a safe downtown, who wants to help out with this public health crisis and put their money where their mouth is,” said Sherie Skager, President and CEO of the Seattle Police Foundation.

The Foundation wants to buy two drug dogs for the department. It’s hoping to raise $45,000 which covers the cost of the two dogs and PPE and first aid kits for them.

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