Idaho’s first electronic-detection K-9 will assist the state in tracking down child predators.
K-9 Officer Newton of the Rupert Police Department is one of 66 electronic-detection K-9s in the country. Instead of sniffing for drugs or other illegal contraband, these dogs are trained to detect electronic storage devices — which are important pieces of evidence in child exploitation investigations.
Newton, a black Labrador, arrived in October with the help of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that combats human trafficking and child exploitation.
“He’s indispensable,” Detective Corporal Travis Freeman said in an interview with local NBC affiliate KPVI news. “His nose is so sensitive and he’s going to be able to find things that we would absolutely otherwise miss during a search. Indispensable to the type of work that we do.”
Freeman explained to reporters the science behind these uniquely trained dogs.
“What Newton is actually detecting when he’s smelling for these devices is a chemical compound called triphenyl phosphate oxide, or TPPO for short, and it’s a chemical compound that’s used in the manufacturing process of digital storage devices.”
Detective Sergeant Sam Kuoha said that in child exploitation cases, it’s key to locate the storage device that contains the incriminating evidence.
“So in a child exploitation case, we already know what we’re looking for. We’ve already run the route. We already know there’s some type of device that’s storing this illegal content. We bring a K-9 such as K-9 Newton and he’s able to assist us in locating that device,” he explained.
Due to the time-consuming search process and the expanding caseload, the Rupert Police Department realized they could save time and energy bringing on a K-9 like Newton, who can find devices in all kinds of places.
“[He’s found] hidden cameras in walls and devices. I’ve personally seen Newton find a micro SD card under a layer of water that was in a toilet tank that you’d never expect to be found. In a recent actual search warrant, he found a hidden cellphone in a pile of dirty laundry in an attic,” Kuoha said of Newton’s abilities.
Newton will be based in Rupert but is also available to agencies across the state of Idaho. Across the country, dogs like Newton are becoming increasingly popular as well, especially as the DOJ recently warned about the rise in child pornography over the pandemic.
Ohio and New Hampshire recently took advantage of the unique K-9s in response to the increase in child exploitation cases.
In addition, like many electronic storage-detection K-9s, Newton is also a therapy dog for both officers and survivors of child abuse.