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MPs Learn To 'Sniff Out' Illegal Drugs
By Cpl. Roman Yurek
MCB Hawaii

MCB HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii(May 22, 2001) — In its "war against drugs," the MCB Hawaii Military Police Department uses dogs trained to locate hidden contraband. Until recently, an individual Marine without one of the drug-sniffing dogs had difficulty searching a suspected drug user's car or home though because of a lack of probable cause.

On May 15 and 22, MPs learned how to identify the smell of marijuana and other drugs during a controlled burn and contraband class.

"Sometimes military police go by a car near the reef and get a smell of something and are unsure what it is," said Staff Sgt. Maynard Amat, field training officer for the company.

"The controlled burn allows the MPs to recognize the scent of controlled substances when they approach a vehicle," said Cpl. K.B. Bane, an investigator for the Criminal Investigation Division. "If anyone questions the Marine's determination of probable cause, the Marine's service record book has an entry verifying participation in the controlled burn training."

This sort of training has not been conducted within the company for more than five years, according to 2nd Lt. David Wagner, MP platoon commander. Wagner added that since the legal department has not set a specific number of times per year the Marine must do the training, the plan is to familiarize MPs once a year with the smell of marijuana.

Now, each MP can use their nose to find marijuana and the person using it. The controlled burn entry in the training section of their SRB will give them probable cause to search a vehicle or residence.

For some MPs, this was the first time they have ever seen or smelled marijuana. "It's nothing like I have ever smelled before," said Sgt. Melinda Laborde, a platoon sergeant for the company. "It is hard to describe...it had a sweet burning smell."

Amat told all the Marines that the amount of marijuana they were smelling was not enough to affect their system. "In law enforcement, you do have to be exposed to drugs," Amat added. That includes knowing what the drug looks like, knowing how it smells, how it is packaged, and how it is made, he continued.

Along with learning to recognize the smell of this drug, MPs were also given classes about other drugs such as cocaine, methanphetamines, and many of the other drugs that are popular today, said Amat.

The knowledge gained with the controlled burn and the narcotics classes will help them do their job more efficiently, Amat added, and it gives them more tools to use in their war against drug use. red ribbon icon

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