North Dakota Crime Bureau adds dog for fire investigations | News

The North Dakota State Crime Bureau has its latest agent’s nose on the grindstone.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem on Tuesday introduced K-9 Lee, a nearly 2-year-old black lab that detects accelerators or flammable liquids such as gasoline, citronella and lighter fluid.

Lee began his duties last month after graduating from training school in Front Royal, Virginia. He will work with local law enforcement and fire departments across the state.

Lee is partnered with Bureau of Criminal Investigations agent Luke Kapella to detect accelerators in arson and suspicious fires.

“I’m basically a dog tour guide,” Kapella said. “I make sure he stays safe because he’s working so hard he’s not watching if he’s going to fall through a floor or step on glass, so when we go into a scene I make sure just that he’s safe in his job.”

Lee can also track people with accelerators on their clothes.

It is trained daily and has already been used twice, most recently at the site of a fatal fire from which it returned on Monday.

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The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives paid for the dog’s training, which cost about $50,000, Kapella said.

Lee is being made freely available to the state crime bureau for law enforcement purposes under an agreement with the federal government, Stenehjem said. The jurisdiction of the dog allows him to go all over the country.

Lee is one of 63 accelerator detection dogs across the country, with the closest others being in Seattle, South Dakota and Wisconsin, according to Kapella.

“They’re mostly in the south and southeast, so there’s not much here, so it’s a great honor to have a dog here and to be chosen,” he said. declared.

North Dakota’s climate could be favorable for Lee; 32 degrees Fahrenheit “is about the optimal temperature for these dogs to treat,” Kapella said.

The crime bureau has two other K-9s, Jib and Jab, both trained on the smell of the chemical in the memory solder of electronic devices, leading investigators to objects containing child pornography.

Stenehjem said Jib and Jab have proven themselves. They have assisted in numerous arrests and the rescue of three sexually abused children since May 2020. Bureau Director Lonnie Grabowska said the two dogs are used approximately weekly, both for narcotics and search warrants of the office’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Stenehjem’s office thought another dog could help with fire investigations.

Kapella demonstrated Lee’s abilities by leading him into the Attorney General’s office, where the dog found hidden discs containing different accelerators.

North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations Agent Luke Kapella directs K-9 Lee during a demonstration of his accelerator detection abilities in Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s office.



“What he’ll do if he finds it, he’ll sit down and then he’ll wait to get paid (with a treat) and then I’ll ask him to show me exactly where he is, and that’s where he is. he is perfecting his craft a bit and showing me exactly where he indicated,” Kapella said.

Lee must be recertified every year, according to Stenehjem.

“He has to be 100%,” the attorney general said.

The state’s Office of the Fire Marshal, which reports to the Attorney General, conducted 105 requested fire investigations in 2020. North Dakota reported 88 arson attacks that year.

Contact Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or [email protected]

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