LAKE COUNTY — For many years, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office road patrol unit has operated without the help of a K-9 dog, but this has now changed. Luke, a 3-year-old K-9 dog, is now active with road patrol. Sheriff Rich Martin sees this new addition as a valuable asset to law enforcement in the county.

“With no active K-9, we were not utilizing the full potential of what a K-9 program offers in regard to illegal drug interdiction and enforcement. This is no longer the case,” Martin said. “Chief Deputy Pat Hedlund and myself were able to locate an excellent K-9, at a minimal expense to the county.”

Deputy James Buscaino was selected to become the new K-9 Deputy.

“I was excited to see that Deputy Buscaino was interested in the position. With his experience, proactive nature and professional attitude, I knew he would be exactly what we needed for the program,” Martin added.

Luke, a German shepherd, was born and trained in Michigan at Magnum K-9’s facility for narcotic detection, tracking, criminal apprehension/handler protection, evidence recovery and to passively alert his handler to the presence of narcotics.

“Luke’s No. 1 task is drug detection,” said Scott LaRoe, Luke’s trainer. “While going through the K-9 academy, Deputy Buscaino not only learned how to care for and maintain the training for his new partner, but he also learned how to read behavior changes and the subtle clues in the behavior changes his dog would produce. The K-9 is not a robot and needs his handlers help with certain portions of the job. Buscaino learned fast that a behavior change could be overlooked and the importance of paying close attention.

“I am excited for this team. Luke is one of the best drug K-9s I have ever seen as a trainer.”

Even though the academy is completed, the team still has monthly and annual training requirements to be effective, Martin said.