BROOKINGS – The Brookings County Sheriff’s Office has a new deputy with unique skills.
Arras, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, has joined the department as a drug/apprehension/tracking dog. He is partnered with Deputy Manny Langstraat.
The Sheriff’s Office recently retired Buddy, a drug detection dog, and Sheriff Marty Stanwick wanted his next K-9 officer to have a wider range of skills so he could be utilized in different cases they are encountering more often.
“Seems like a lot of times, a person’s not afraid of an officer, but when that dog starts barking and growling, they kind of sit up and take notice of that. It’s just another tool for law enforcement to use,” Stanwick.
Arras has been fitting in very well at work and at home, Langstraat said.
Langstraat and his family adopted Buddy, so they have both dogs with them now.
Arras and Buddy are still sorting out their relationship, mostly because Buddy’s still getting used to all the changes since his retirement, but Arras is enjoying life with the humans in his new family, he added.
Arras is a friendly dog, but always ask Langstraat first if it’s OK to interact with him.
“If I’m just letting him out to go to the bathroom, he’s a completely different dog,” Langstraat said.
If Arras is working, he’s concentrating on the task he’s doing and might not be receptive to someone interrupting him.
“I would just hate for anything to happen accidentally,” he said. “So, yeah, people probably do need to keep some distance.”
Arras was born in Holland, where he received his early training, Langstraat said, adding that importing the dog from there saves time on the initial training.
“They do a lot of sports with the dogs there. And some of the sports directly correlate with what we like to do here and some of the skills we like to see,” Langstraat said.
The name Arras was given to the dog in Holland, and the local sheriff’s office just decided to keep it, he said.
Arras arrived in August 2018, and he and Langstraat immediately went into training together.
“We have to go through it all as a team,” Langstraat said.
That meant six weeks of drug school in Sioux Falls and patrol school for another eight weeks. They will continue to train together monthly to keep their skills sharp and stay on the same page as partners, he added.
Langstraat was partnered with Buddy before his retirement, so he’s been through drug detection school before, and he went through it again with Arras. It was the first time Langstraat had gone through patrol school with a K-9 partner.
“Once you get a new dog, you start all over,” he said.
“He can pretty much do it all. He’s a fully-certified, dual-purpose dog,” Langstraat said.
Like Buddy before him, Arras is trained to detect drugs and alert his human partner when he’s found them.
Included in that is evidence recovery, Langstraat said.
“You know where a person was at one point and you think they may have dropped something. He can search for that item and search for human odor on it, and then he’ll find it and lay down on it, so we can go collect it,” Langstraat said.
Arras has other skills, including searching and apprehending suspects.
Suspects can hide from human officers, but not from the keen nose of a K-9 officer. Running doesn’t help because the dog can track the scent; hiding in a building might give a human officer the slip, but not the dog.
An officer will alert a suspect to make themselves known and warn them the dog is coming in, Langstraat said.
“If the person is still hiding in there, the dog will search them out. As long as they stay still, they’ll be fine. If they move, if they break away, the dog will bite them,” Langstraat said.
Arras can track humans for other reasons.
If someone is reported missing – whether a child or maybe a person with dementia – Arras can be used to find them.
He can also be used to track people after a vehicle has been found abandoned, Stanwick said. The law requires all accidents be reported. Part of the reason is law enforcement is required to account for the people who might have been in the vehicle; sometimes drivers or passengers can be thrown some distance from a vehicle or into a nearby body of water. If officers don’t know where the people went, they’ll have to search the land and water, wasting time and resources if the people just walked away.
“Sometimes it has to do with the fact that they’ve been drinking. They don’t want to get arrested; they don’t tell law enforcement that they’re OK. So we’ll call the hospitals and call to see if there’s anybody hurt. Well, this way, we could use the dog to track,” Stanwick said.
Having the K-9 officer on patrol helps protect the human officers, too, Stanwick said.
If a suspect is hiding somewhere in the dark of night or behind a door in a building, waiting to ambush the officer, the dog can find them before they do that, Stanwick said.
Arras is also trained to be aware of things his human partner might not see and protect him if necessary, Langstraat said.
“He is certified in handler protection, also,” he said. “Without commands, if he sees a threat coming to the handler, he acts on his own. Then he’s trained to protect me.”
Stanwick wanted a dog with expanded skills to save time and better deal with the cases his deputies are facing these days.
“The fact is, we need them both. We need the narcotics side because of the increase of the methamphetamine, fentanyl and those types of things … but I also think we need the patrol side, too, to help with apprehension and on the search side,” Stanwick said.
They’re dealing with more drug cases, which gives rise to other types of crime, including those in the felony classes.
“We’re seeing more residential burglaries, we’re seeing more burglaries (where they’re) trying to obtain property that they can sell to buy drugs. It all goes hand-in-hand,” Stanwick said.
“Society’s changing. Because of the opiate crisis, we’re seeing those type of individuals become more violent and actually the dog can help us apprehend those people,” Stanwick said, and keep the officers safer.
Buddy could detect drugs, but not search for suspects. If a search dog was needed, Stanwick would have to request one from another agency, usually Watertown or Lake County. It would take time for the dog and handler to get here – sometimes time that they didn’t have to spare. Every second counts when a child or endangered adult is missing; suspects can get away if not apprehended quickly.
In criminal cases, they were required to bring in dogs which were certified in those areas, for legal reasons. Having a certified dog at hand makes more sense.
“So now we can do this on our own without having to call other agencies,” Stanwick said.
He’s ready and willing to loan Arras out to other agencies. First, other agencies have helped his department that way and he wants to return the favor. Then there’s the fact that Arras was bought with money from a special fund.
“The dog was purchased through the Attorney General’s office,” Stanwick said.
When officers stop vehicles and arrest people on drug charges, sometimes they find the money that the suspects have made on the illegal sale of those drugs. The money is confiscated and put into the state’s drug forfeiture fund after the case is resolved.
“Then agencies can apply for that money,” Stanwick said.
His office applied for money from that fund and used it to purchase Arras.
“So the dog was paid for by drug dealers,” he said.
That ironic point aside, there’s still expenses, like the cost for the ongoing training both K-9 and human undergo and, of course, the dog has to eat.
Sometimes people offer to make donations and Stanwick requests the donation goes to the K-9 fund to pay for the dog’s food. Without those donations, taxpayers would foot the bill.
Use of full-service K-9 officers is on the rise, and Stanwick thinks it will only increase.
“More and more departments are starting to go with the service dogs,” he said. “Now we’ll have those capabilities.”
Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected]