One of Normangee’s largest-ever drug busts occurred last month, and it can be attributed in large part to a four-legged officer.
NPD Chief Charles Herford has been on the job for a little more than a year and has made narcotics apprehension a priority. The chief – who has just three full-time officers and a reserve deputy in his department – jumped at the chance when he got a call about the possibility that drugs may be present at a routine traffic stop on June 14. That’s because Chief Herford is also the department’s K-9 handler.
“[The officer] suspected there was some sort of illegal activity going on,” Herford said. “She requested consent [from the vehicle’s occupants] to search the vehicle and was denied. That’s not necessarily a red flag; there are people who just don’t want you to search their stuff.”
Once Herford and his K-9 Wilson arrived on scene, Wilson alerted to the odor of narcotics, which gives the officers probable cause to conduct a search. Wilson, who joined NPD in December, is trained to detect marijuana, methamphetamine, MDMA (ecstasy), cocaine and heroin.
Wilson found four vacuum-sealed bags containing more than four pounds of marijuana, approximately 1,000 Xanax bars and $3,608 in cash.
Terry Lynn Peterson of Dallas was arrested for possession of a controlled substance (second-degree felony) and possession of marijuana (state jail felony). Sammy Davis Brinzy Jr. of Madisonville was arrested for possession of marijuana. Cary Lynn Peterson of Madisonville was arrested for driving while license invalid with previous convictions, a parole violation warrant from Austin and an outstanding warrant for possession of marijuana from Brazos County.
“We’ve been called out a couple of times, but this was our first major drug bust,” Herford said. “This is substantial.”
Just two days later, a Department of Public Safety trooper called for Wilson’s assistance in Marquez. The dog found more than nine grams of suspected methamphetamine and a set of digital scales.
“When it comes to a dog’s senses, I compare it to someone cooking vegetable soup at your house,” Herford said. “When company shows up, they smell vegetable soup. A dog smells the carrots, the corn, the spices. That’s how these dogs are able to detect an odor in such small amounts.”
Wilson, a pit bull, was acquired at no cost to Normangee taxpayers through a partnership with Universal K-9 and Animal Farm Foundation. Following a recent incident at an area prison in which tracking dogs were needed, Herford recognized the need to track people by their scent and signed up Wilson for additional training. The pup completed the training just a couple of weeks prior to his first major drug bust.
“I attribute his success not only to myself as his handler but to Universal K-9,” Herford said. “A lot of the dog’s success depends on the dog-trainer relationship.”
The chief went on to say that a K-9 purchase can cost up to $20,000 and would have been impossible for a small department on a limited budget.
“When I came to work in Normangee about a year ago, one thing they addressed with me was a narcotics problem here,” Herford said. “I had to take that into consideration. A K-9 is another tool to combat that.”