Patrolman Mark Kearns works with his dog Kodiak, the newest member of Ogdensburg's police force.
By JIMMY LAWTON
OGDENSBURG – Ogdensburg Police Department has added a new four-legged member.
Kodiak is a drug sniffing black Labrador retriever who works and lives with his owner Patrolman Mark Kearns.
Kodiak became an official member of the Ogdensburg police force June 1, but Kearns said his story started in April of 2013.
Kearns said he was interested in bringing a dog on to the force, but the biggest hang-up was funding. He said then St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole Duve secured $12,000 from criminal seizures for the force.
That funding helped Kearns put his own young puppy through eight weeks of police training. Kearns said he attended obedience school with Kodiak as well as 80 hours of academy training.
Kearns said he is also required to attend 16 hours of training a month and an additional 40 each year.
At a city council meeting Monday, Kearns gave a demonstration of Kodiak’s skill. The dog easily sniffed out MDMA or ecstasy from a duffle bag.
Kearns said the dog has two separate collars so it knows when it is on duty and when it isn’t. He said at home Kodiak is a regular pet that plays with his children, but just like Kearns himself, the dog also has a job to do.
Ogdensburg City Police Chief Rick Polniak said the dog has already assisted in two felony arrests. He said Kodiak recently sniffed out discarded ingredients that were intended to be used to produce methamphetamine after police received a call of a suspicious person.
“I got to see him in action first hand. He does good work,” Polniak said. “He will be a great addition to the force.”
While Kodiak is proficient at detecting drugs, Kearns says his presence brings something else to the force as well. He said children are excited when they see Kodiak on patrol.
“Kids love him. It really breaks down the barrier of police intimidation,’ he said.
Ogdensburg Mayor William Nelson said he was pleased the city now has a K-9 unit. He said Kodiak will be an important tool in combating the city’s drug problem.
Kearns said the dog will soon have its own bullet-proof-vest and already has a large kennel and first-aid kit thanks to donations that have been pouring in from organizations like the SPCA and Tractor Supply.
“The community support has been incredible,” Kearns said.