Winnipeg police phasing out cannabis-sniffing canines
Published Friday, October 12, 2018 7:58PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 12, 2018 8:20PM EDT
With cannabis becoming legal for recreational use on Oct. 17, the Winnipeg Police Service will no longer be training dogs in its K9 unit to sniff out the drug.
“Things are going to change a little bit next week,” Winnipeg police Const. Dan Papetti told CTV News.
A member of the K9 unit, Papetti frequently works with dogs trained to smell everything from illegal drugs to explosives.
"These dogs, they want to work,” Papetti said as he trained with eight-year-old police dog Rane. “And, you know, practice makes perfect."
As an older police dog, Rane has been trained to alert her human partner whenever she detects cannabis. But with legalization around the corner, how police use dogs like Rane will have to change.
“We don't want to run into a situation where a dog that's been trained on it is indicating on an odour that may be legal,” Sgt. Shawn Lowry, the unit coordinator of the Winnipeg police K9 unit, said. “We don’t want to have those issues later on in court.”
Dogs with cannabis training like Rane will thus no longer be used to form the grounds or legal motive for a search. Instead, a dog without cannabis training will be brought in for this type of detection.
Dogs like Rane, however, will still be kept on to work.
“If it's a search warrant, we’ve already had grounds to make the arrest,” Lowry explained. “We're allowed to use the tools that we can, whether it’s infrared cameras, individuals, or in this case the K9.”
Winnipeg police have long been preparing for legalization. One dog without cannabis detection training is already on the job and two more that joined the force in January will not be trained to detect marijuana either.
Since Winnipeg police typically get about seven years of service from the dogs in its K9 unit, they estimate that within three to four years the entire unit will be composed of dogs without cannabis detection training.
With a report from CTV Winnipeg’s Jon Hendricks