COVINGTON - A new member of the Newton County Sheriff's Office will soon be patrolling the cell blocks and parking lot of the Newton County Detention Center in search of illegal narcotics.
Chobe, a 3 1/2-year-old, drug-sniffing Belgian Malinois, was recently donated to the sheriff's office by the Conyers Kennel Club of Georgia.
She is the sheriff's office's second canine officer, joining a 6-year-old veteran named Kegan.
According to Merry Carol Houchard, a member of the Conyers Kennel Club Board of Directors, the nonprofit organization has donated bullet/knife-proof vests for canine officers to various law enforcement agencies in Rockdale, Newton and Henry counties in the past, but this is the first time they have donated a dog.
"We very much appreciate the dog, and it will be put to good use," said Newton County Sheriff Joe Nichols. "I also appreciate the fact that we've got people that help us and are conscientious enough to work with us trying to stop some of these problems."
NCSO Investigator Sgt. Sonny Goodson, who was instrumental in acquiring Chobe, said that she will primarily be assigned to the detention center, but also available to assist patrol deputies if necessary.
Goodson said Chobe was purchased from the Temple Police Department, which is near Carrolton in Carroll County.
Though she is already mostly trained, Goodson said that Chobe, who they just received last week, will probably spend another month with her primary handler, Deputy Ginger Stabile, before she is ready to get to work. Chobe also will be trained to work with a second handler so that she can be available to search for narcotics 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Having been a dog handler since 1999, Goodson said he believed Chobe would be a valuable asset to the sheriff's office.
"Dogs are a valuable tool to any law enforcement agency," he said. "They work constantly, and they work hard."
Goodson said that illegal drugs are not a big problem at the detention center, but that by getting the drug-sniffing dog, they are taking "proactive" steps to ensure that it doesn't become one.
"I think she will be a wonderful asset. I think the sight of (Chobe) will be a deterrent," said Stabile.
Stabile, who is working with a dog for the first time, added that a benefit of having Chobe is that they can take her in the visitation area of the detention center, which is where the majority of drugs come from.
She also said that Chobe's training is going well and indicated that she found three bags of methamphetamine and two bags of cocaine during an exercise earlier this week.
While she is currently residing with her handler, Chobe will later move to her living space, complete with customized dog house, behind the detention center.
The NCSO will host a dinner for the Kennel Club on Monday evening in appreciation of their donation.
For more information about the Conyers Kennel Club and its programs, you can visit their Web site at www.conyerskennelclub.org.
Joel Griffin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.