The Cook County Sheriff’s Office has taken on a new hire. He smiles at his co-workers, clings to their feet, likes salmon and is adept at sniffing electronic equipment.
Boone, a one-and-a-half-year-old Labrador and golden retriever, is the office’s only electronic detection canine who helps investigators find devices such as hard drives, cell phones and memory cards.
“If Boone hits on something, it’s not about something being there. It’s right where it is,” Sgt. James Dries of the Cook County Sheriff’s Special Victims Unit said Boone appeared sleepy during an interview.
According to Internet Crimes Against Children Investigator Daniel Codd, who is also Boone’s handler, Boone’s sniffing equipment is so good that he even found a cellphone underwater while training in a creek. And when he hid a phone inside a refrigerator he couldn’t be fooled by the smell of food.
Operation Underground Railroad, a group that says online it fights to end sex trafficking, donated Boone to the sheriff’s office. Boone debuted on November 14 after a two-week training period at Indiana.
In two months, Boone has already successfully found multiple devices on two Chicagoland searches, according to Cathy Carmody, director of public relations for the sheriff’s office.
According to Codd, in one of the first searches, Boone made a puff near the television stand. The puff is one of his signs that he smells something. And then he stares at Cod and stands still, a behavior that suggests Cod is near an electronic device. It does this when it smells triphenylphosphine oxide, a chemical that prevents devices from overheating.
Boone then went closer to the floor and codded down to a micro SD card containing vital information on his case.
According to Codd, working with Boone was like “learning to dance” with a partner who has to interpret Boone’s behavior.
“He either wants to go very fast to a scent that he immediately recognizes, and I have to walk with him. Or he wants to be very particular and slow with it because he knows he wants to be right on the exact thing.” is,” Codd said. “If you want to learn to dance with someone, you want to make sure that your steps are right. You want to make sure that the two of you are in sync. And it’s the same way with Boone and me.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said, “The nature of these crimes is, you know, sadly they are on the rise so we are constantly overwhelmed by them.” “And the devices themselves are the linchpin for the whole affair. [Boone]… has really changed the dynamics as far as our ability to prove these cases is concerned.”
In addition to his electronic detection duties, Boone is also an emotional support dog.
Codd said he sat in on interviews with the victims and was able to “tend off the intensity a little bit”. Dreze said, and in the office, he boosts the officer’s morale even when he is asleep in his bed.
The Chicago Sun-Times spent some time with Boone on weekdays. Check out some pictures here.
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