Earlier today, Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General and Deputy Commissioner Todd Shean, Commanding Officer of the Alberta RCMP, in collaboration with the National Police Dog Service Training Centre hosted a special RCMP police dog services demonstration in Innisfail, Alberta. The demonstration focused on police dogs trained to detect fentanyl.
"As Alberta's provincial police force, the RCMP plays a vital role in keeping Albertans safe," says Minister Ganley. "Training police service dogs to detect fentanyl will help authorities intercept this drug before it makes it onto our streets, as well as protect police officers and members of the public from dangerous overdoses through accidental contact. I applaud the RCMP for this initiative, and Alberta is proud to be the home of its national police dog training program."
The demonstration featured police service dog Eve, a purebred German shepherd, led by her handler, Corporal Dan Block, through a series of challenges. When Eve, recognized the odour, she provided a sit confirmation to signal her discovery to Cpl. Block. For the purpose of this demonstration and for safety precautions a diluted form of fentanyl was used.
In recent years, Canadian law enforcement agencies have reported significant increases in fentanyl related seizures and a high occurrence rate of fatal overdoses. In 2016, Alberta Health Services reported 368 fentanyl-related deaths and 241 in 2017, from January 1 to June 30.
"Fentanyl has had a devastating impact on families and communities across the country and in Alberta," says Deputy Commissioner Shean. "The training given to police service dogs at the National Police Dog Service Training Centre is one of the ways that the RCMP is working to counter the presence of illicit drugs in our communities, ensuring the safety of Albertans and Canadians."
Police service dogs, who have been a valuable asset to the RCMP since 1908, play a critical role in keeping Canadians safe. The canines are trained in a variety of capacities, including: locating lost persons; tracking criminals; searching for narcotics, explosives, illicit alcohol.
The issue of fentanyl and illicit opioids remains a top concern for the RCMP nationally and within the province. To that end, the RCMP will continue to collaborate with domestic and international law enforcement partners to pursue criminal networks fueling this public health epidemic and keep Canadians safe.