Fourteen-month-old Kelpie Jazzie is the latest recruit at Goulburn Correctional Centre.
She is one of eight specially trained dogs that will help the state’s prison officers crack down on contraband.
The K9 handlers and their drug-detecting dogs graduated after undergoing an intensive 16-week course in specialised dog handling and training.
Jazzie will be the newest addition to the Southern Region team which covers several correctional centres including the South Coast, Goulburn and Cooma.
K9 handler Ben Kember, who was partnered with Jazzie, said it was a great coincidence all the dogs matched well with their handlers.
“All the new recruits selected a dog at the beginning of the course, the personalities clicked and we stayed with them throughout the course,” he said.
“I feel thankful to be part of this unit and assist staff at all the centres to ensure we’re stopping drugs and other contraband from coming into the prisons.”
The K9 unit is part of the elite Security Operations Group (SOG) and is deployed to assist with inmate search operations and visitor operations.
Each handler is assigned a dog and is responsible for training him or her to recognise particular odours. Some of the dogs are trained to discover drugs while others are trained to detect phones and even explosives.
The SOG conducted more than 85,000 searches of visitors, their property and their vehicles last year, including more than 67,000 with K9s.
This resulted in 243 visitors charged by police for contraband offences. Correctional centres refused entry to 573 visitors for the same reason during this period.
The K9 handlers and their dogs will be based in a number of regions across the state:
- Three in the Sydney metropolitan area;
- One in the Hunter and Northern region;
- One in the Southern region;
- One at Junee Correctional Centre; and
- Two in the Central West region.