Kiowa County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) Deputy Avery Snover has recently been designated the rank of K-9 Deputy after giving an in-depth presentation to the Board of County Commissioners, Sheriff Forrest Frazee as well as the other deputy’s with KCSO about the process and benefits of having a K-9 unit on the force and thus gaining the approval to move forward with acquiring a K-9 for the KCSO.
Snover, who was a 2017 Eads High School graduate attended Otero Junior College Police Academy in late 2018. After his graduation Snover then became employed by the Kiowa County Sheriff’s Office for the first time working as a deputy. However, he found himself called to serve in Bent County for some time prior to returning to Kiowa County just months ago.
While working for Bent County Sheriff’s Office Snover became acquainted with Frank Hurst who is the owner and co-founder of Bloodhound Man Trackers, Inc, a not-for-profit organization that assists agencies all over the country with acquisition as well as training for police dogs.
According to Hurst’s website, bloodhoundmantrackers.org, “Frank’s passion for helping others is what fueled the creation of Bloodhound Man-Trackers. Frank’s mission has always been to help others, no matter their ability to pay for a service or not. Frank has assisted dozens of law enforcement agencies across the USA and has numerous training and teaching hours in bloodhound trailing and human decomposition work. Frank is proud to be a member of NecroSearch International as a Decomposing Human Scent K9 Handler and a resource for NCMEC (the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children). Frank has testified several times as an expert witness with his K9 partners.”
With Hurst’s help and guidance Snover has been able to bring this service to the Kiowa County communities at nearly no cost to the tax payers. Apex, a male German Shepard and Border Collie mix was rescued from a shelter and donated to the KCSO through an organization in Grand Junction, Colorado. Snover states that, “I have worked with Border Collies before, and they are easy to train and German Shepards have a good nose for police work.” Snover says that because of the mix of breeds, Apex will be a medium size canine and he will be an asset to the KCSO.
The cost to train a young K-9 is significantly lower than purchasing a fully trained K-9. Snover stated that the price for a fully trained K-9 can be in the range of $10,000. With Apex being donated, Hust’s training offered free of charge, and many other donated items and services the cost to the tax payers will be minimal with the added insurance and travel to the trainings being the only costs associated to the County and the KCSO at this time.
Though Snover has had Apex for a few weeks now, he is spending the first month to bond with him prior to beginning training. Avery and Apex will soon begin traveling to Elizabeth, Colorado each Friday to train with Hurst where both will be trained in tracking and narcotics. According to Snover, “I anticipate that Apex will be fully functioning in approximately three to four months.”
To use Apex in traffic stops and other police work Apex must be what the law determines as “well trained.” Which according to Snover requires a tremendous amount of documentation about Apex’s training which can include elements such as the weather on the day of the training and what type of surroundings he was in when preforming the training. If a “well trained” canine hits or catches a scent on a vehicle that alone grants probable cause for the officer to search that person or property.
Because Snover and Apex will also be trained in tracking, they will be an asset when looking to locate a missing person or a suspect that has fled the scene in the area.
Some around the community may have seen Snover out with Apex, Snover has begun taking him out with him to get him used to people and being in a vehicle, but he is not being used currently in KCSO activities. Snover states that the public is okay to interact with Apex, according to the trainer this will build his confidence. Apex is not a bite dog so there will be no concern for him biting.
When asking Snover what his motivation for becoming a K-9 Deputy was he eagerly stated, “Ever since I graduated the Police Academy in 2018, I’ve always had a thing for interdicting drugs and criminals. Writing citations for speeding was never really my thing but it’s part of the job. I still write citations, though I focus more on the interdiction side of things. Being a canine deputy definitely benefits cases in certain situations. A dog has the ability, for the most part, to maximize the case outcome. I don’t think most citizens of Kiowa County understand how much drugs are transported through Highway 287, 385 and 96. Times are changing in our small community and just in the past couple months since I came back to work for the Sheriff’s Office, I have seized numerous amounts of illegal drugs. A main concern is fentanyl in the area, we’re seeing an increase of it. People are dangerously mixing different drugs together for instance fentanyl laced cocaine, fentanyl laced meth, and fentanyl laced heroin. it’s not just personal use amounts either we’re talking about pounds, as the Sheriff’s Office seized approximately one year ago.”
Late last week a statement posted on the KCSO Facebook page, directly backs up Snover’s assertion of the presence of illicit drugs coming through as well as being present in our community. The statement reads:
“Yesterday, (August 19) deputies were performing proactive patrol and seized multiple paraphernalia and controlled substances:
At approximately 955 hours Deputy Snover and Deputy Negley arrested a male party in the east 100 block of 14th street for an outstanding warrant and local drug charges. Methamphetamine paraphernalia was seized on this traffic stop.
At approximately 0005 hours Deputy Snover conducted a traffic stop in the west 300 block of 10th street. Upon investigation the driver was issued a summons for drug and traffic offenses. Methamphetamine, along with paraphernalia was seized during this traffic stop.
At approximately 0045 hours Deputy Snover conducted a traffic stop in the 600 block of Wansted Street. Upon investigation the driver was issued a summons for drug and traffic offenses. The passenger fled the traffic stop and a warrant will be issued for his arrest for numerous drug charges for methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl which were seized during the traffic stop.”
As Snover states, “Times are changing in our small community,” as Kiowa County joins the battle with larger towns and cities in fighting drugs, trafficking, and other crimes that we once felt we would always be shielded from because of our remote and close-knit community. Because of these ever-changing times it is good peace-of-mind that our County Sheriff’s Office has the tools and the training needed to keep our communities safe.
KCSO Undersheriff Kayla Murdock states that, “Snover is enthusiastic about his new endeavor of becoming a K-9 Deputy. He has done his research and is teaming with a non-profit agency to conduct training at no cost to the Sheriff’s Office. He continues to find funding and additional options for the Sheriff’s Office to ensure that costs are covered without having to come out of the budget. We are excited about the new addition of K-9 Apex, and the prospect of utilizing him as a tool to combat the drug issue in the county and coming through on the highways.”