Canine unit to help rise in narcotic use

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Police department gets canine unit to help decrease narcotic use

WATSEKA, Ill (WCIA)— Police say they have noticed an increase in narcotic use in the city, so they’re doing something to find solutions to the problem. City council members approved a canine unit last month, and gave them 65,000 dollars to start.

They hope this will help stop their drug problems from getting worse. Police used that money to buy a vehicle, equipment, a canine, and training for the dog Tucker. “He can indicate on nine different narcotics which include heroine, methamphetamine cocaine, marijuana, LSD, ecstasy, mainly all the big stuff that we see around here,” said Mark Harris a patrol officer with the Watseka Police Department.

Police say they had three overdoses in 12 hours about three weeks ago. The Illinois Department of Public Health says drug overdose deaths doubled in Iroquois County from four in 2017 to eight in 2018. That’s the highest reported in a six year span. “We have been seeing a rise in the narcotic use,” said Harris. Police say there may be a reason for the uptick. “We’ve had recent flooding over the years and due to that flooding, we’ve had some abandoned houses,” said Harris, “So there’s plenty of areas for these users to go to.”

Scott Muench has been with the department for 19 years. He says some things are getting worse. “Heroine seems to be the drug of choice now,” said Muench. Those drugs aren’t always so easy for police to find. “They can have it in their shoe. We’re never going to smell it in the car. We’re not going to see it,” said Muench. That’s why they got help. “Hopefully we can get out there and put an end to some of the transports that are going through town,” said Harris. They hope this will let the community know they hear their concerns. “We’re trying everything including Tucker to get a handle on the situation,” said Harris. They’re hoping to have Tucker on the streets by the 1st or 2nd week of December.

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