By Dana Simas, Information Officer I
At the Western States Police Canine Association competition in West Sacramento, CDCR Correctional Officer Chris Salopek and his dog Taser from Salinas Valley State Prison recently won third place in building searches and third overall among 20 K-9 teams.
Correctional Officer Eric Walton and his dog Robbie from Folsom State Prison competed in the competition for the first time and placed fifth in the overall competition.
As part of the narcotic-detection portion of the trials, judges planted marijuana, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine inside vehicles, buildings and outside areas. Each K-9 team was judged on how many of the concealed drugs were found and how quickly.
CDCR K-9 teams have consistently placed in the top levels of local K-9 trials. Both Taser and Robbie were donated to the department.
Taser, a 4-year old German Shepherd handled by 19-year CDCR veteran Officer Chris Salopek, has been in service for about three years. His discoveries have been outstanding.
He is cross-trained to not only to detect the odor of narcotics, but also cell phones and tobacco.
He was donated by Nancy Rynard, owner and operator of Westwood Kennels in Ohio. Rynard specializes in breeding and training German Shepherds for law enforcement agencies. She heard about CDCR’s program and donated Taser and his brother Max to the department. Max is assigned to Sgt. Jeremy Packard at Folsom State Prison.
Robbie is a 3-year old Belgian Malinois handled by Officer Eric Walton who was donated to CDCR by Stephanie O’Brian and Jeremy Talamantes, owners of K-9 Behavior Services in Fillmore, Calif.
Robbie has been in service since 2010 and is trained as a narcotic detection dog, capable of detecting marijuana, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Robbie’s father “Blitz” was ranked as the number one French Ring Sport Dog in the country.
CDCR currently has 30 dog/handler teams strategically placed at institutions across the state. Currently, 14 are trained to detect narcotics and contraband (e.g.- cell phones), 15 trained to detect narcotics only, and one trained to detect contraband only.
They’re all lead under the supervision of Statewide Regional Canine Coordinator Sgt. Wayne Conrad.