New K-9, training resources help keep families safe


By Mike DeWine - Guest Columnist



Having well-trained law enforcement officers has been a priority of mine as Ohio Attorney General. We’ve sought to make the most advanced and cutting-edge crime-fighting tools available to Ohio’s law enforcement agencies at low or no cost to police officers across the state through innovations like our law enforcement training village, mobile academies, webcasts, and online courses.

We’re adding to that legacy with two new assets — an electronics-sniffing dog and scenario-based training equipment — which are now available from the Attorney General’s Office to help Ohio’s law enforcement agencies protect Ohio families.

Reptar, a 22-month-old black Labrador retriever, is the Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s (BCI) new Electronic Detection K-9. Reptar has been specially trained to sniff out chemicals used in electronic devices with storage capabilities, such as computers, cellphones, tablets, hard drives, USB storage devices, and SD cards. Child pornography suspects often use these devices and may hide them inside doors, underneath furniture, and even inside false-bottom drawers or electrical outlet covers.

The Attorney General’s BCI Crimes Against Children (CAC) Unit is where Reptar and his Special Agent partner and handler are assigned. They’re also available to law enforcement investigators who may need assistance with uncovering hidden electronics in other types of cases.

Reptar has already demonstrated his value “on the job” by finding devices hidden from investigators. In a recent child pornography investigation, Reptar sniffed out a hidden SD card inside a drawer with a false bottom. He also uncovered a flash drive concealed behind a stereo. In another case, Reptar led investigators to a cell phone stashed inside a carved-out toilet in an Ohio prison cell.

Having a highly-skilled nose isn’t Reptar’s only talent. He also does “double-duty” as a comfort animal for law enforcement investigators on stressful assignments and for victims at search warrant scenes.

Reptar is thought to be one of only two law enforcement Electronic Detection K-9s in Ohio and one of approximately 50 world-wide. Two grants awarded to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office covered the $11,000 cost to purchase and train Reptar.

Making specialized assets like Reptar available is one way the Attorney General’s Office assists local law enforcement agencies. Bringing advanced professional instruction aids to their doorstep is another.

Earlier this month we announced that our Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) will raise scenario-based training to the next level through a new Scenario Training Equipment Program (STEP).

Scenario-based training simulates scenes where officers could encounter threats — apartments, stairwells, warehouses, etc. — and enables them to “fine-tune” their reactions in a safe and realistic environment. However, law enforcement agencies wanting to conduct scenario-based training “in-house” often face a significant barrier. The cost of purchasing designated training equipment such as specialized pistols, Tasers, marking cartridges, and protective gear can be prohibitively expensive. Through the STEP Program, OPOTA will lend that gear to law enforcement agencies free of charge.

After OPOTA conducts a scenario-based training course for an agency’s training officers, the agency instructors will be able to “check-out” OPOTA’s scenario-based training gear to use in their own departments. They can borrow the gear and return it when they’re finished, just as if they were using a library card. OPOTA will deliver the gear and pick it up as well.

Our goal at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office is to provide our local law enforcement partners with the latest and most effective crime-fighting tools and training available. For more information about Reptar or the STEP Program, visit our website at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.

Mike DeWine is the Ohio Attorney General. He can be reached at 30 E. Broad St., 17th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215 or call 800-282-0515.

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By Mike DeWine

Guest Columnist