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New officer sinks her teeth into job
Young, blond and cute, Amber is the newest and arguably the most popular member of the Port Orchard Police Department.
But her partner Officer Randy Ernst says he doesnt want her to be popular he wants everyone to hate her.
If we do our job right, they will, Ernst said, explaining that the golden labs job is not to make friends its to sniff out drugs.
And shes got a wonderful nose, he said, adding that his new canine partner graduated at the top of her class last month in Marysville. She didnt miss one drug.
If Ernst sounds like a proud new father, its because now that hes working with a 15-month-old all day, he sort of is.
Its like having a child, he said, explaining that bringing Amber with him means he must schedule plenty of bathroom breaks, walks and play time into his work routine. Shes still a puppy, so sitting in the back of the car gets really boring. I have to remind myself to let her out every hour or so.
Because if she doesnt get out enough, he said, she starts to chew everything. A habit he said he discovered while they were still training together.
She chewed up the whole back of my car, he said, explaining that while he was in classes, Amber kept busy gnawing on wires, the insides of the doors and the back seat whatever she could get her teeth on.
Luckily, Ernst said shell eventually grow out of her urge to chew, and even though shell never learn how to hold a decent conversation like a human partner, shes already more than proved her worth as a drug dog.
Shes an awesome tool for the department, Ernst said, explaining that Amber has sniffed out drugs, drug money and even some residue during her short tenure.
(Drug dogs) are extremely useful, especially for finding drugs in hidden compartments, said Chief Al Townsend, explaining why his department lobbied the community to help them buy a new dog after Charlie, its nine-year-old black lab, retired last year.
Humans look with their eyes, said Charlies handler, Det. Beth Deatherage, whom Ernst said now supervises his work with Amber. (Dogs) look with their noses, so they are never fooled.
In fact, Ernst said Amber sniffs with a nose that is about 1,000 times better than a humans at picking up scents, which means she can detect drugs that arent even there anymore, often finding scant residue in empty bags or on large stashes of money confiscated from suspects.
Despite their worthy skills, most police departments including Port Orchards do not have enough money in their budgets to hire dogs, which cost several thousands of dollars to buy.
Townsend said his department was able to replace Charlie with Amber thanks to many donations from the community, including $5,000 from the Peninsula Dog Fanciers Club last June.