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K9 team demonstrates drug search

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Donald Munster, chief of police at the Concord Township Police Department, was guest speaker at the July 21 meeting of NALS of Jackson County, where he and his K9 companion Dax demonstrated how to conduct a drug search. The meeting was held in Judge Diane Rappleye’s jury room at the Jackson County Courthouse.

“It was a pleasure having Chief Munster and Dax at our meeting,” says NALS of Jackson County President Marion Stone, ADR clerk at the Jackson County Circuit Court. “We learned about the training Dax has been through to be certified in narcotics and patrol and we got to see him search out narcotics during the meeting. It was also interesting to find out that his food and veterinary care are all donated.”

Munster and Dax, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois that is insured for $13,000, were partnered as a K9 unit in April 2014 by the K9 Urban Response Team (URT) that donated Dax to the Concord Township PD.    

The K9 URT is a specialized unit with a variety of multi purpose detection K9s and highly skilled/trained handlers, all of whom have successfully completed Law Enforcement training, and a few with military background. Based out of Michigan and with an aircraft to utilize for rapid response, URT assisted with search and rescue efforts during the terror attacks of 9/11 and has assisted a number of different agencies with disasters along with explosive detection work. Services are donated to municipalities and government agencies without a fee.   

“Dax didn’t have any narcotics or patrol experience,” Munster says. “We initially started our training with the URT then we transitioned and continue to train weekly with the greater Calhoun Area Law Enforcement K9 teams in Battle Creek. Dax begins and ends his shifts with me at our house.”    

Munster explained that K9 dogs are usually in service for about eight years before retiring and becoming a pet.     

The K9 team is certified in Narcotics and Patrol through the National Association of Professional Canine Handlers (NAPCH) based in Taylor.   

The patrol certification includes passing tests in obedience, article search, area search, tracking, building search, and aggression control. In the narcotics training, a dog is tested in two of three areas: vehicles, buildings, and any other designated area, such as lockers, luggage and boxes.    

As the NALS meeting demonstrated, Dax is rewarded with toys when he sniffs out narcotics, not with food or treats. At one point in the demo, a box of dog treats was sitting on a cabinet in which Munster had placed contraband. Even after the treats were removed, Dax continued to indicate he had found hidden drugs.   

“We’re thankful to have had the opportunity to meet and share with the Jackson NALS members,” says Munster, whose training and experience ranges from police, fire, and EMS experience, and who began his career in law enforcement in Sault Ste. Marie. He was a Reserve Police Officer for the Sault Ste. Marie Police Department while attending Lake Superior State University, where he graduated with a degree in fire-science.    

In 2008-09, he attended the MCOLES Police Academy at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek. After graduation, he started at Springport Township Police Department then moved to Parma-Sandstone Police Department, before a move to the Concord Police Department where he started as an officer and was promoted to police chief. He now serves as police chief of the Concord Township Police Department in Jackson County.    

An adjunct instructor at the Kellogg Community College Police Academy, where he teaches Physical Fitness and Defensive Tactics and Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF), Munster has been a member of the Pennfield Township Fire Department near Battle Creek since 2000, and assists the Centreville Police Department in St. Joseph County with state mandated firearms training.   

Munster and Dax have enjoyed tremendous support from the Jackson community.

“Blackman Animal Clinic has been a wonderful partner as well and has donated all of Dax’s veterinary care, and Jackson’s West-side, Airport Road Tractor Supply Company (TSC) has donated all of Dax’s food,” Munster says.   

For more information on NALS of Jackson County and its activities for legal professionals, visit http://nalsofjacksoncounty.com.

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