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COPS grant helps Granville PD establish K9 search program

Representatives from Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s office joined officers from the Granville Police Department Tuesday afternoon at the Courtyard Marriott hotel at University Town Centre to kick off and raise awareness of the Granville K9 Wandering and Criminal Detection program. 

The program, which is made possible with a $150,000 Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant that Granville PD obtained through Capito’s office, will establish and operate a scent technology and K9 search program for finding missing individuals with dementia, developmental disabilities, victims of trafficking, and locating criminal suspects. 

The COPS grant not only covers the cost and training of K9 officer Rose, a bloodhound who joined the department earlier this year, but it will also cover the cost of scent kits from Scent Evidence K9.

Paul Coley, Scent Evidence K9 CEO and former bloodhound handler for the FBI, developed the first scientifically tested and proven scent collection and preservation kits and trains bloodhounds, like Rose, to use them. 

Coley, whose training center is based in Florida, is in Morgantown this week to provide continued training for Rose, who is a trailing dog, meaning she is trained to find a specific scent presented to her.  

K9 Cadillac from Granville PD and K9 Abel from Star City PD are also taking advantage of Coley’s training this week.

Granville Police Chief Craig Corkrean said training does not stop with Coley though.

“They train every day that they work, and they work really hard and I’m really proud of both of them,” he said of Rose and Cadillac.

The scent collection kits developed by Coley include a flash drive to store important personal information, a preservation jar, gloves, gauze for scent collection, a label to mark the collection date and evidence tape to seal it after collection.  Collecting a sample is as easy as wiping the gauze on the skin of the individual, putting the gauze in the jar and sealing it.

A person’s scent will stay on the gauze in the sealed jar for up to 10 years, Coley said.  Then if someone goes missing, the dog will be able to use that stored scent to help locate them.

The flash drive included in the kit has a pre-preparedness plan on it.  Recent photos of the individual and their medical history can be loaded onto the drive and police can plug them directly into their cruisers.  For children with autism, for example, information about whether they are verbal or nonverbal can be saved along with any possible triggers, so they are not scared when found.

Corkrean said his department received several thousand scent collection kits that they will be distributing for free to anyone in the community.

The department is working with senior care organization Home Instead, who helped Granville PD obtain the grant, to distribute the kits to the community. 

Corkrean said anyone interested in obtaining one of the free kits can get one from Home Instead, in Granville Square, by calling 304-906-4333 or directly from the Granville PD at 304-598-0035.

With over 40,000 West Virginians living with Alzheimer’s in 2021, Corkrean said the program greatly benefits taxpayers by “proactively protecting populations with Alzheimer’s and autism who are at high risk of wandering while also improving K9 search success of missing citizens/students, and criminal suspects.”

“It’s going to be an asset not only for the town of Granville, but the community as a whole and the state of West Virginia as a whole,” he said.  “We will take Rose anywhere that needs us.”