The 2-year-old German shepherd has completed more than 200 hours of training and is partnered with Deputy Brian Scott, an 11-year veteran
K-9 Duke, a German shepherd, is the newest member of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and has teamed up with Deputy Brian Scott. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)
The newest member of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department has a nose that’s equipped for human scent detection.
K-9 Duke, a 2-year-old German shepherd from Germany, arrived last week after completing more than 200 hours of training courses through the Inglis Police Dog Academy in Oxnard.
He is human scent detection trained and specifically trained for open area and building searches, handler protection and suspect apprehension. In the next six months, he will be trained in bomb odor detection and for hard-surface tracking to locate missing people.
Duke is partnered with Deputy Brian Scott, an 11-year veteran of the sheriff’s office. department. The pair will be stationed in the North County but available to respond to countywide calls.
“Dogs for this work are very high drive and excited, so he’s always alert or looking around,” Scott said of his new partner. “He does what I say, and he knows at the end of that, he will get a reward and his reward is playtime.”
Scott has learned some German words because Duke learned commands in that language.
“We are early in our relationship, but I think we are progressing well,” Scott said. “I was lucky enough to be chosen for the position.”
Scott added that the training is continuous, with he and Duke having scheduled weekly training in addition to training while on duty.
Training is based on the California Police Officer Standard and Training. Each pair is evaluated by a POST-certified evaluator, and the team has to certify annually, according to Scott.
“We also work our normal patrol schedule,” he said. “Training never ends.”
The addition of another K-9 patrol team is a longtime dream of the sheriff’s office and will allow K-9 coverage 24 hours a day, 365 days a year throughout the county.
K-9 Duke is specifically trained for human scent detection and suspect apprehension, among other abilities. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)
“There has been a lot of talk about having a fourth canine (patrol K-9s),” Scott said. “The command presence of a canine is huge.”
Bringing Duke into the department was made possible by funding from the county Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse Project Deputy Dog program and a large monetary donation from Reece and Christine Duca of Carpinteria. They didn’t disclose the amount donated. The Ducas were given the honor of naming the canine as a token of appreciation for their generosity.
In February 2017, a K-9 unit was instrumental in locating two wanted suspects hiding underneath a house on Padaro Lane in Carpinteria. The incident began when deputies saw a car in Montecito that had been reported driving recklessly, according to the sheriff’s department. The house belongs to the Ducas, who have three dogs of their own.
The couple wanted to do something to help the sheriff’s K-9 program after the incident.
“The sheriff’s department is phenomenal in personnel, but it’s the symbiosis between what the dogs can do and what the dog’s partner can do that resulted in the apprehension,” Reece Duca said. “For us, this is just being able to assist not for ourselves but really all of the others who benefit from this incredible resource … we had an opportunity to see it in action. … It’s a ‘thank you’ to the sheriff’s department and everyone involved.”
Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse President Richard Kline gives a lot of credit to the Ducas for helping the program.
“Their support was critical to make this happen,” Kline said. “Without the Ducas, it’s likely we wouldn’t be able to come up with enough funds because it’s fairly significant to get a new dog and put it through training. The Ducas have provided a classic case of paying it forward. It is absolutely vital that kind of support continues.”
The incident and responding K-9 unit are what prompted them to contribute to the Project Deputy Dog program. The Ducas recognized the vital role the K-9 unit plays in protecting the local area and police force service.
Project Deputy Dog is a fundraising effort launched by the county Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse in 2017. The group aims to raise money to add new dogs to the sheriff’s department and to pay for unanticipated expenses. It also funds future purchases of additional replacement dogs as canines reach the end of their service life, which is around 8 years old, Kline explained.
The program seeks to raise about $160,000 for canine needs.
In addition to purchasing specially bred dogs, the program funds basic law enforcement training, ongoing training, specialized instruction for tracking, food and veterinary care, equipment and other needs.
“This is a vital part of the sheriff’s office team,” Kline said of the new dog. “That team is what protects every one of us in the county every day.”
The K-9 team consists of four patrol dogs, as well as a jail narcotics K-9 that was purchased by the Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse’s Project Deputy Dog program.
The Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse is raising money to replace a K-9 called Aco, who is near retirement. Kelly Hoover, a sheriff’s department spokeswoman, said a contributor of $25,000 or more to the county Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse’s dog program will be given the honor of naming the county’s next K-9.