Canine squad to keep drugs out of prison

Jessica CuthbertAlbany Advertiser
Prison officer Dawn puts newly graduated drug detection dog Aria through its paces at the Corrective Services Training Academy in Bentley.
Camera IconPrison officer Dawn puts newly graduated drug detection dog Aria through its paces at the Corrective Services Training Academy in Bentley. Credit: Picture: Nic Ellis

She might look adorable, but this pooch has the new responsibility of keeping drugs out of the Albany Regional Prison.

Aria the black labrador recently graduated from the Passive Alert Detector dog program run at the Drug Detection Unit in Perth.

She and two other dogs will now join the ranks of Corrective Services, after an intensive 10-week training course where they learnt important skills to detect drugs and other contraband.

Commissioner for Corrective Services Tony Hassall said DDU dogs were trained to detect a wide range of illegal drugs including methamphetamine.

“Together with their handlers, the DDU dogs play an essential role in helping maintain the safety and security of prisons, which is supported by random and targeted searches of offenders and visitors, urinalysis of offenders in custody, body scanners and other methods, including the sharing of intelligence between agencies,” he said.

“The message is clear: there is no place for drugs in our prisons and with these new recruits we will continue searching, without fear or favour, to keep our facilities clean.”

All dogs used by Corrective Services are selected from the Australian Border Force dog breeding program.

Once trained, the new DDU dog and handler teams are mentored by an operational dog and handler across a nine-week period until they are ready to begin solo search operations at prisons.

Aside from Albany, the other recent graduates will be deployed to Eastern Goldfields Regional Prisons and the metropolitan unit.

Aria, who is taking the leash from retired dog Carson, will work with handler Dawn Kennedy who has been in her role as drug detection officer for 13 years.

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