Storm would rather spend the day gnawing on his favorite plastic red toy, but the newest four-legged recruit to the North Las Vegas Police Department has important work to do.
At the command of his handler and partner, Sgt. Scott Salkoff, the 3-year-old Belgian Malinois jumps into the back of a Ford Expedition to patrol the city’s streets during the swing shift.
“He’s a locating tool, but he’s also a less-lethal device,” Salkoff said, comparing his canine companion to guns, Tasers, batons and pepper spray.
“For today’s desire to scale things down and be a little more understanding of each other’s needs, it works real well to be able to use a tool like that,” Salkoff said. “We accomplish a goal, everyone goes home happy and safe and it’s a pretty cool thought that we’re able to do that.”
Storm joined the North Las Vegas Police Department’s K-9 Unit in May after officers purchased him for $11,000 from Alderhorst International, a police canine training facility in Riverside County, California.
After testing several dogs, Storm stood out based on his persistence and “extremely good play, hunt and prey drives,” resulting in good hunting skills that are required on patrol dogs, Salkoff said. Storm joins a team of five other police canines in North Las Vegas. Two more dogs are slated to join the team in February.
Storm and Salkoff usually spend their shifts driving around North Las Vegas, ready to respond to burglaries, robberies and violent crimes that might require him to sniff down a suspect.
“Their noses are exceptional,” Salkoff said of the dogs. “We found that they save us a significant amount of time, resources and manpower.”
Even though Storm was officially certified a few weeks ago by the California Narcotic Canine Association, Salkoff sets aside an hour of training daily to keep the dog’s skills sharp. Commands are given in Dutch, and Storm is trained to solely listen to the unit’s handlers.
At home, Storm isn’t treated as a family pet. He sleeps inside an air-conditioned shed in Salkoff’s backyard, with room to play in a fenced area.
For his part, Salkoff had always wanted to work with animals and initially hoped to work as a veterinarian. Instead, he joined a police Explorer’s program as a teen and served as the “bad guy” decoy during training for police dogs.
“I enjoy the the training, learning and watching how the dogs learn and grow,” said Salkoff, a 14-year veteran of the North Las Vegas Police Department. “You have to teach the dogs how to look for people, and help them understand why it’s important to do that.”
Dogs on film
The North Las Vegas Police Department’s K-9 Unit recently created an Instagram page at nlvpd_k9. The page had 473 followers as of Friday.