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AZ DPS K9s decommissioned after passage of recreational pot law

Posted at 10:26 PM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 00:26:49-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — "So we currently have 15 canines currently working on the interstate," said Jeff Hawkins, President of the Arizona State Troopers Association.

That's down from 30 the state troopers had before; why?

Hawkins said the moment voters approved the sale of recreational marijuana, canines trained to detect cannabis were no longer useful to their department.

"There's not any funding that I'm aware of at the legislature to replace the needs that we have."

15 canines were decommissioned but Hawkins said some were replaced.

"We did get a grant from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety to replace eight dogs."

As for the dogs no longer with the department, Hawkins said some will still work.

"Eight of the 15 we gave to the department of corrections, they were in need of dogs because in prisons you still cannot possess marijuana."

The remaining animals will likely be adopted by their former handlers, according to Hawkins.

He said there will be an effort to replace them but with the state budget already spoken for, the funds he said the Trooper's Association will eventually ask for have to be prioritized elsewhere.

"We're in a staffing shortage. We currently are at a level of 268 vacancies in the trooper ranks which almost puts it to the point where we may not have a canine handler to put with the dogs."