Meet Tango: Morgan County Sheriff’s new K9 helps crack down on drugs in jail

WAFF's Jasmyn Cornell reporting
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 11:23 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - Keeping contraband out of prisons has been a consistent issue for jails and prisons throughout the Tennessee Valley and the United States.

From drugs and alcohol to cellphones, contraband often enters jails through inmates’ bodies, their exchanges with visitors, and when they attend medical appointments or other events that take place outside of the jail.

One local Sheriff’s Office is dealing with an increase of drugs laced with fentanyl.

“The amount of overdoses that we respond to and the coroner has to deal with just continues to increase and increase,” said Mike Swafford, Public Information Officer at Morgan County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s because people are taking drugs that they have taken. What they’re not prepared for is now they’re mixed with fentanyl, and each person’s body reacts differently to that.”

When a person goes to jail, they are stripped search and evaluated by a body scanner to make sure they aren’t bringing in drugs and other types of contraband.

The Sheriff’s Office now has a new way to detect drugs and prevent them from coming into its facility. Leaders have added a K9 unit named Tango. He is a 1-year-old German Shepherd, who is certified and trained in narcotics detection.

Tango’s number one job is to detect illegal narcotics in the Morgan County jail, and he’s now the first tool they go to, said Swafford.

“Tango can’t locate fentanyl, but fentanyl is always with something else. So, that’s how he’s able to detect it. So, it’ll be meth, but it may have fentanyl with it. It can be marijuana, but it’s laced with fentanyl,” said Swafford.

WAFF's Jasmyn Cornell reporting

When an inmate overdoses, their medical team is able to administer Narcan quickly to that person, said Swafford. He says thankfully, they haven’t had any fentanyl or drug-related deaths.

Tango has successfully found drugs laced with fentanyl in the jail, according to Swafford.

“[Trained dogs] all detect in different ways: Some will put a paw up, some will sit down, others will just back up and start barking at that location,” said Swafford. “When they do that, they’ve been trained,[and] that’s their signal that [they’ve] located something.”

Even though he is certified, Tango’s training in narcotics is ongoing.

Copyright 2023 WAFF. All rights reserved.