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Nevada Highway Patrol’s new K-9, Skipper, a nod to slain trooper

Updated October 10, 2020 - 4:09 pm

The Nevada Highway Patrol welcomed its newest four-legged member of the K-9 team last week, a 1-year-old German shorthaired pointer named Skipper.

Skipper graduated after completing 310 hours of training at Ford K9, said owner and trainer Cameron Ford. Skipper is trained and certified in narcotics detection.

During the graduation, Skipper and his handler, trooper Clifton Davis, demonstrated an odor-recognition exercise. Skipper was faced with several smells in a wheel, such as dog food, human food and rubber gloves, among the narcotics scent. The dog then froze and pointed with his nose to the container with the target scent. Davis gave the signal to release, and Skipper was given his yellow squeaky ball and praise.

The dogs are taught to point and freeze because “sit” is a command learned; they point only when the scent is detected, Ford said.

“(Trooper Davis and Skipper) will begin their service to the Las Vegas area in just a couple of weeks, and will be out there making a difference, fighting the war on drugs and keeping Nevada as safe as possible,” Ford said.

Skipper started training when he was about 6 months old and still needs to complete on-the-job training.

Skipper is named in memory of Sgt. Ben Jenkins, 47, who in March was shot and killed in the line of duty by a motorist he had stopped to help near Ely. According to the Highway Patrol, Jenkins was an avid outdoorsman and loved his boat, so friends and co-workers gave him the nickname Skipper. Jenkins was also a K-9 handler during his career.

Five other dogs and handlers from California and Utah graduated alongside Skipper and Davis. Although also odor-focused, the other dogs have trained on varied skills such as detecting human remains for search and rescue.

Contact Jannelle Calderon at jcalderon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @NewsyJan on Twitter.