Hillsboro police dog Rico barked Tuesday while searching the halls of Hillsboro Middle School, but not because he had found any drugs. His handler, police officer Brad Richards, encouraged Rico to bark so students would know that a search was actually taking place.
The search didn’t take long, because Rico and Richards were joined by dogs and their handlers from Geary County Sheriff Department, Grandview Plaza Police Department, and Urbandale Police Department of Urbandale, Iowa. The visitors were there to practice and hone their skills.
Richards and Rico go to HMS and Hillsboro High School once a month to conduct a drug sweep, at the schools’ request. Rico sniffs at the base of lockers and around vehicles in the parking lot for the drugs he has been trained to search for. Richards said they have never found drugs at either school.
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Earlier Tuesday the dogs practiced tracking and detecting drugs separately from the containers they are likely to be in, Richards said.
Rico ready to retire
Hillsboro Police Department is raising money to purchase and train a replacement for Rico.
“Rico is now 12 years old and has a full gray beard,” Richards said.
A puppy with a proper law-enforcement pedigree and training will cost about $4,000, Richards said. The department’s dog program is not part of the city’s regular budget, rather, it is supported by donation.
A recent $500 Hillsboro Area Impact Fund grant from Hillsboro Community Foundation brought the department’s fundraising to about $1,500, Richards said.
Anyone who wishes to donate toward the purchase of a new police dog can call the Hillsboro Police Department, (620) 947-3440.