Remsen welcomes drug dog to its police force
REMSEN — The Remsen Police Department has welcomed a new member — Bear a K9 drug dog.
Bear is a 2 1/2 year old black lab who makes his home with Police Officer Cain Junkman.
“I re-homed Bear from a family in the Orange City area,” Junkman said. “I was working here and knew I wanted to eventually train a drug dog, and Bear fit the qualities for a drug dog. He has a very high drive.”
Police Chief Scott Allen said he had not thought about having a drug dog until Junkman brought it up.
“I said I would look it it as the city didn’t have one and I needed to check into insurance and funding,” Allen said.
Once he received the OK, Junkman began sending Bear to training.
“He went to training and did really well,” he said. “Bear went to certification in Omaha and was certified in April.”
Junkman explained that to pass certification as a drug dog, Bear had to sniff out several vehicles and rooms, and locate the illegal substance.
“Bear is a passive-alert dog, which means he’ll go to the odor and sit by it and look at it,” Junkman said. “Once he does that accurately, the judge observes that and he earns his certification.”
Bear is certified to find heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine and cocaine.
As far as training Bear, Junkman said he and Bear spent several weeks with a man in Sac County, who is also a canine handler.
“Essentially you start at Day 1 letting the dog smell the odor, and once the dog smells the odor, you start to reward him each and every time so he starts to understand. Once he starts to understand he gets rewarded each time, then you teach him to sit each time, too, and once he sits you reward him some more, so essentially over time, he learns this is what I’m supposed to do when I find this odor. ‘This is what dad wants me to do.’ That’s how he indicates there is an illegal substance there. So it is several days of that and learning different kinds of things, and being very very patient with him,” Junkman said.
He continued he hasn’t stressed too much basic obedience with Bear, “simply because other than sit, there isn’t a whole lot he has to do otherwise.”
Has a Uniqueness
And while he will be working on some obedience, he wants Bear to know to sit when he smells the substance because that is the biggest part of his job.
Junkman continued, “A police canine is kind of unique, and a lot of people don’t understand this, is when they’re running around the house or around a building, they will jump on counters. There are many times when I’m sitting here working on a report, and this dog will jump up on the counter.
“The problem is you really don’t want to discipline them necessarily, because in a regular house or something like that where we’re looking for narcotics, that might be an indication that there’s something up there,” he said. “It’s very interesting when you have a family dinner or something and he wants to get on the kitchen table. Overall he’s pretty well behaved and he knows right from wrong.”
Junkman started his duties with the Remsen Police Department in August 2021.
Trained for Narcotics
Allen said having a drug dog is very beneficial to the department.
“Remsen has never had a dog in the department,” Allen said. “It’s not only a good tool for a drug dog but also great for PR for the department and with kids around town. Bear is a conversation piece.”
Junkman added Bear is unique because he is a single purpose dog.
“His main goal is narcotics. He’s not a bite dog. A dual purpose would be a bite dog. I didn’t want a dual purpose dog, because it’s hard community wide and would be very challenge.
“Bear actually does really well with kids. I think partially because they’re his size. But he does extremely well with kids and in public and I think that is why Chief Allen said that’s a big plus, not only serving his purpose for narcotics but also serves his purpose as he’s a conversation starter with us,” Junkman added.
Bear has not had an “official” case to sniff out as of June 7, but continues his training to hone his skills.
Bear will also soon start tracking school.
“The unique thing with that is he can be used to not only track suspects in a crime but also if we have a local citizen with dementia or Alzheimer’s or a small child wander away from home, we can use Bear to attempt to locate that person,” Junkman said.
Allen also noted there are a lot of good things with having Bear on the force.
“Cain is basically picking up the tab on raising Bear and training Bear. It’s a little bit of a burden on him but at least the people of Remsen can’t say we’re frivolously throwing around money and we need to be backing Cain and Bear on this,” Allen said.
He is hoping as more people meet Bear, donations may come into the department for the dog’s care and upkeep.
One of Bear’s first public functions will be at Remsen’s National Night Out in August.