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'The best partner you could have'

 

Columbus narcotics officer Mo Eguires speaks after leading a demonstration of a canine drug search during Exchange Club at Lion Hills Center Thursday afternoon. Capt. Archie Williams stands with canine officer Stanley in the background.

Columbus narcotics officer Mo Eguires speaks after leading a demonstration of a canine drug search during Exchange Club at Lion Hills Center Thursday afternoon. Capt. Archie Williams stands with canine officer Stanley in the background. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

 

Isabelle Altman

 

 

A local canine officer discovered a bag each of cocaine and methamphetamines at Lion Hills during the Exchange Club's weekly luncheon Thursday. Luckily, it was just a drill. 

 

The bags had been left there by the officer's handler, narcotics officer Mo Eguires, and Capt. Archie Williams, who oversees the city and county's combined drug task force. The demonstration was part of a larger presentation Eguires and Williams gave to the thrilled club members on the canine officer, a Belgian Malinois named Stanley. 

 

Bred in the Netherlands and trained by a nationally-renowned police dog training organization in Indiana, Stanley is a dual purpose canine officer, able to both detect illegal drugs and apprehend the unlucky suspect who doesn't follow officers' orders to come quietly, Eguires said. Stanley is Columbus Police Department's only canine, though Lowndes County Sheriff's Office has six of its own, Williams said. 

 

"When you're out there on a dark road at night alone, you always have that partner," said Williams, himself a handler for one of LCSO's canine officers. "He's going to be there to protect and help you whenever you need him." 

 

As for Stanley himself, he is 4 years old and has been working with Eguires since December 2015. The two underwent training from January to April in 2016, which Eguires called "some of the best training I've ever been through as a law enforcement officer." During those four months, Stanley and Eguires forged a bond as they learned how to track narcotics and suspects. 

 

Stanley lives with Eguires at his home where he acts like any other dog, even playing with Eguires' pet "wiener dog." Eguires also has an agreement with the city that when Stanley retires, probably in about five or six years, Eguires will buy him for $1, and Stanley will live out his retirement as a full-time pet. 

 

"He's a 90-pound lap dog," Eguires said. 

 

 

 

Serious worker 

 

But Stanley's disposition changes when he and Eguires go to work. After all, Eguires said, he was trained by the same company that trained the dogs that caught Osama bin Laden. In 2016, the first year Stanley worked for CPD, he was deployed 180 times -- more than some canine officers are used their entire career, Eguires said. He's apprehended three suspects over his career so far. His biggest drug bust has been $35,000 worth of narcotics. 

 

After Eguires explained Stanley's background and answered club members' questions, the star of the show got to shine. Eguires put a special lead on Stanley and began giving him commands, touching tables with a soft word so Stanley knew to sniff them. When Stanley came to the coffee table on the far side of the room, he stopped and nudged his nose toward the cupboard under the coffee pot. 

 

"He's telling me, 'Hey, there's probably some drugs in here, Dad. I can't believe you can't smell them,'" Eguires said. 

 

Sure enough, Eguires and Williams removed the two bags of drugs to show their audience. Then Williams snuck outside to put on a large safety pad so Stanley could demonstrate attacking him. 

 

Eguires held onto Stanley's leash ordering Williams to put his hands in the air and warning him about his dog. When Williams, walking back and forth and raising his arm, didn't follow the orders, Eguires let go of the leash. 

 

Like a shot, Stanley ran toward Williams, leaping and grabbing hold of the officer's arm. Williams staggered back but kept his feet as Stanley held on until Eguires called him off. 

 

"That would typically be a very bad day for somebody," Eguires said. 

 

After the demonstrations, Stanley stood proudly between his handler and the other officer as club members stood up to get pictures on their cell phones. Eguires patted him fondly on the head. 

 

"He's the best partner you could have," Eguires said.

 

 

 

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