Tribal Government & News

Tribal Police K-9 forms partnership with federal prison

03.12.2015 Dean Rhodes Federal Government, Public Safety

By Smoke Signals staff

SHERIDAN -- Grand Ronde Police Officer Patrick McConnell and his canine partner Nixwa demonstrated K-9 drug search techniques for the executive staff at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan on Wednesday, March 4.

The demonstration displayed Nixwa’s talents and the process of how he locates illegal narcotics, McConnell said.

Nixwa, a Belgian Malinois, was a quick favorite of the prison’s staff and after the demonstration concluded staff members were invited to pet and interact with Nixwa.

The federal prison in Sheridan houses more than 1,700 inmates in the correctional institution, a minimum security satellite camp and a detention center.

Warden Marion Feather and her staff read about Nixwa’s drug-detecting success in the local papers in recent months, including traffic stops by other police agencies that used Nixwa’s skills. To date, Nixwa has detected more than $16,000 worth of illicit drugs.

Last April, McConnell and Nixwa received certification from the National Police Canine Association while training in Tucson, Ariz. They were certified for narcotics detection and patrol apprehension.

“When we returned to Oregon,” McConnell said, “the decision was made to use Nixwa as a narcotic detection K-9 only.”

Nixwa also received certification from the Oregon Police Canine Association in early November.

Nixwa is trained to detect the odors of meth, cocaine, heroin or any derivatives of those narcotics. He presents a passive alert, meaning he sits when he detects one or more of the odors.

Most recently, McConnell and Nixwa assisted the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office on several traffic stops that yielded illegal drugs.

Lt. Colen Luther of the Sheridan federal prison contacted McConnell about a month ago to see if the department would lend it the services of Nixwa.

Police Chief Al LaChance and Sgt. Jake McKnight both approved the idea with the belief that Nixwa is not just a resource for the Tribe, but should be a resource for other local agencies as well.

Nixwa will be the official Narcotics K-9 for the federal facility and will be deployed at dates and times picked at random. It is the hope that this mutually beneficial relationship will be a long and fruitful one, McConnell said after the demonstration.

“We are so excited to have Nixwa and Officer McConnell at our disposal,” said Capt. Steven Williams.

Williams, Luther and Lt. Damon Sayers said they are appreciative that the Grand Ronde Tribal Police Department is geographically near and offering its resources to assist the prison.