Jacklyn Wagner

Two new dog squads launched

A DOG Unit Regionalisation Program that will see two new dog squads in Lismore and Tweed Heads will be officially launched today.

Police Minister Michael Gallacher will join police dogs and their handlers in Coffs Harbour this morning when police will demonstrate the capabilities of the general purpose and drug dogs.

Lismore has already welcomed it's dog squad, which is made up of a dog handler, a German Shepherd general purpose dog named "Scotty" and a drug detection Labrador named "Dougy".

After a lengthy trial, the Tweed-Byron Local Area Command will also get its own dog squad.

General purpose dogs are used for tracking, searching for offenders and missing persons and during public order incidents.

Drug detection dogs are used during raids, vehicle searches and a large public events.

Tweed and Lismore were two of seven locations selected to be part of the state-wide dog unit program.

They will service the entire Northern Rivers.

Tweed MP and NSW parliamentary secretary for police Geoff Provest said the dog squads would give local police a greater sense of security.

"...and going on the evidence over the border in QLD, the apprehension rate of offenders is great," he said.

"It will be a great boost to morale and is going to curb anti-social behaviour.

"From what I have seen in Sydney, the dog does seem to have a calming influence."

The dog squad launch comes 24 hours after the NSW Greens revealed police sniffer dogs were wrong on four out of five occasions.

Greens MP and Justice spokesman David Shoebridge said in the first nine months of this year, 11,248 people were incorrectly identified by sniffer dogs as having drugs.

The figures were obtained through Parliamentary questioning.

"These thousands of false positives mean there are thousands of innocent people being ritually humiliated on our public streets and public transport network," Mr Shoebridge said.

"If this was happening in the car parks of merchant banks there would be outrage."

Sniffer dogs should only be used when other police intelligence has identified drugs in a location, Mr Shoebridge said.

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