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Police Dog Sniffs Out 3 Pounds of Gift-Wrapped Pot

Novato police dog Metz and handler Jeff Ames came across a marijuana stash during a traffic stop Saturday night.

NOVATO, CA -- One of the local narcotics-trained police dogs got a stiff whiff of the ganga when his handler made a traffic stop Saturday night on Highway 101. The result? Recovery of three pounds of marijuana wrapped as Christmas gifts and worth about $10,000, according to Novato police.

Metz, a Belgian malinois breed, detected the drugs after officer Jeff Ames pulled over a car at 9:51 p.m. near the Alameda del Prado exit on 101, according to Lt. Oliver Collins. Ames smelled pot as soon as he contacted the driver, Hubert Herman Miller, 39 of San Jose, who had been pulled over under suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Collins said.

Ames called on Metz to search the vehicle, and the dog zeroed in on two large boxes wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper. Ames found more than three pounds of processed marijuana in the packages.

Miller, who works in auto sales, was arrested at 11:07 p.m. and booked at Marin County Jail. He faces felony charges of transportation and possession of marijuana for the purposes of sale.

Novato police have three narcotics-trained police dogs — Metz, Lex and Ingo. They are often deployed during traffic stops and searches when drugs are suspected.

The department expanded its canine force from two dogs and handlers to three in August 2011 after a fundraising campaign. The office of Marin County Supervisor Judy Arnold donated $7,000 to the cause and a grassroots group called Pennies or Police Dogs raised about $7,000, prompting then-chief Joseph Kreins to approve the purchase of a third dog. Since then, new Chief Jim Berg sent the dogs and handlers through narcotics training at $3,800 per team thanks to Pennies for Police Dogs and other donors.

Belgian malinois are slightly smaller than German shepherds. Berg said the dogs, which cost $8,200 each, are preferred because of advantages in agility, durability and overall health reasons. A typical police dog works about six years before retiring from duty.

The canine program was a target of city budget cuts in 2009, but the Novato City Council opted to trim costs elsewhere and keep the dogs, who today are used in searches all over Marin County and occasionally Sonoma County.

"Novato Police Department is ever vigilant in removing dangerous drugs from our city streets and continues to use police canines to make the community safer," Collins said in a release.

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Tina McMillan December 26, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Chester I worry that we will only get into another argument if we don't look for common ground in what we are discussing. I know NPD is understaffed. I know that it has to do with out ongoing structural budget deficit. I know Pennies for Police Dogs is successful in getting people to donate money separate from tax revenues, that support the program. I trust we wouldn't have the program if it didn't serve a purpose. I believe the dogs do more than just drug work which is why I posted the original link. I think we need to let our police department weigh in on this discussion before we quibble over details because we really don't know how they feel. If Chief Berg said he wanted to increase our number of K9 officers pairs I would trust him. He is the first police chief we have had in a while that has acknowledged the problems associated with property crime, gangs and drugs here in Novato. It was the previous Chief who said we had fewer crimes. Again, without looking at the data, its hard to know which crimes they are talking about. What I see are more drugs, more dealing, more property theft, more damage to property, more prostitution, more unsafe driving due to drugs/alcohol and distraction, more tagging and a general sense that we have gone from a smaller, more rural community to a suburban community that now has crime from larger nearby cities infiltrating its borders. This is just my impression. What do you think about the crime in Novato?
Chester B. Henry December 26, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Tina , Please quit fooling yourself. When do we need a dog for tagging, property theft,prostitution, unsafe driving or anything like that . I have an employee who lives in San Marin and last week when they searched his house looking for the burglars in his area they was no dog present he said. He got a call from a neighbor and went home to open his door for three officers . The dog is used if someone says he is over there or in there . Where were the dogs when this took place ?.
Tina McMillan December 26, 2012 at 10:56 PM
http://novato.patch.com/articles/k9-unit-tracks-suspect-in-25-car-thefts-on-san-carlos-way K9 Unit Tracks Suspect in 25 Car Thefts on San Carlos Way Suspect was tracked to Miwok Park and arrested on suspicion of a rash of thefts from unlocked cars early this morning. Police are still looking for a second suspect. By Tracey Ruiz March 9, 2012 The link to the above article is a sample of the work of the K9 unit. Chester why are you making this into an ugly commentary on the work of our police department's K9 officers? I keep saying it would help to hear directly from them. You keep acting as if I am some how an idiot for thinking they contribute to solving local crimes. I just don't get it.
S. Biada December 27, 2012 at 05:29 AM
The Novato K9's are used through Mutual Aid to help other cities in Marin. Extra officers come to Novato through Mutual Aid to help with Novato's problems. The Marin County Drug Task Force, which is an example of Mutual Aid, helps Novato. San Rafael Police are fundraising for K9's as they have seen the success of Novato's and have had an uptick in crime (several shootings in the last month). The San Rafael Chief is very supportive of police dogs. Chief Berg has stated that K9's "are force multipliers". Ask any law enforcement officer about K9's and they will give you the thumbs up for police dogs.
Tina McMillan December 27, 2012 at 07:46 AM
Thank you for explaining how this works.

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