RUPERT, Idaho — The Rupert Police Department has welcomed its newest officer and he has four paws and can sniff out even the most difficult criminals.
The 2-year-old black Labrador Retriever, K-9 Newton, reported for duty on November 17, and became Idaho’s first ever Electronic Storage Detection K-9 (ESD).
He is only one of 66 ESD K-9s across the country.
“He’s a great asset for the state to have in a lot of cases where digital storage devices are used a lot of times they can be hidden or during a search warrant they could be overlooked by a manual search,” said Newton’s handler, Detective Cpl. Travis Freeman with the Rupert Police Department.
These storage devices are key elements in cases involving child sexual exploitation. In 2020, The National Center For Missing And Exploited Children CyberTipline received over 21.7 million reports. Many reports of child exploitation are related to online enticement, including “sextortion,” apparent child sexual abuse material and child sex trafficking.
ESD K-9s have proven to be a fundamental asset to child sexual exploitation cases.
“Other canines like him have found found hidden cameras inside electrical outlets, smoke detectors toys, all either for voyeurism use or exploitation,” said Detective Sgt. Sam Kuoha with the Rupert Police Department.
One of Newton’s classmates found 43 devices inside of a residence, according to Dt. Kuoha.
The Rupert Police Department was awarded a grant from the Utah based non-profit, operation underground railroad, which works to fight child exploitation and human trafficking, that they used to obtain Newton.
The grant, which will pay for Newton’s lifetime expenses, comes after the department’s extensive work of around thirteen years, fighting the sexual exploitation of children.
While cases involving child exploitation are the primary focus when utilizing newton’s skillset, his training can aid in many kinds of criminal investigations.
“The truth of today’s day and age is that every crime has a digital nexus at some point. There’s always a cell phone involved, or a thumb drive, or an SD card or something of that nature and having Newton to help sniff those devices out is going to be nothing but a boon for law-enforcement in general,” said Detective Freeman.
Newton was trained by Jordan Detection of Indianapolis to detect a chemical compound found in electronic storage devices.
While formal training has concluded, Detective Travis Freeman trains with Newton daily. The goal of K-9 Newton and Detective Freeman’s work, is to serve as an asset to agencies across the state.