21st Century Crime Dog Sniffs Out Hard Drives

Police Officer Trains Dog to Detect Digital Storage Devices

Police dogAs more and more documents and evidence have gone digital, police have experienced advantages and disadvantages. If external hard drives and other digital storage devices can be found, police have a wealth of information available. Finding those devices, though, can be the problem. A police department in Connecticut now has a new, old-fashioned weapon in its fight on crime—a police dog trained to locate digital storage media.

Jack Hubball, the officer in Connecticut, has a long history of using man’s best friend in the aid of law enforcement. He trained dogs in the 1980s to sniff out accelerants to help nail arson suspects. He has also worked with dogs who can locate illegal drugs or bombs. Now, he’s successfully worked with trainers to teach a dog to locate digital storage media, including flash drives, portable USB drives and external hard drives.

Hubball says that these devices can contain critical evidence in a wide variety of criminal investigations. Purveyors of child pornography often store images on external devices. Perpetrators of certain types of fraud may keep a second set of records on a digital device. Hubball took a wide variety of digital storage devices and looked for a common chemical element. Once he isolated a single chemical, he turned things over to Mike Real and Mark Linhard, professional dog trainers, who worked with Selma, a black Labrador and Thoreau, a golden Labrador. The dogs quickly learned to detect the substance, but the trainers took their time, teaching them to detect the chemical through clothes, metal boxes, concrete block, and even food and coffee smells.

Since being put “on active duty,” the dogs have had a number of successes, including the location of a memory card inside a sewing machine.

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