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Joint training with military assists Cocopah Tribal Police

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SOMERTON, Ariz. – The Cocopah Tribal Police and the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma Working Dog Program recently performed training exercises together for the purpose of narcotic and explosive detection, and the tracking and apprehension of suspects.

Captain Jerry Ramos, operations commander for the police department, was instrumental in developing the tribe’s K-9 program. He said the joint and on-site training comes as close as possible to the real thing.

“The purpose of these drills is to make it as close to an actual scenario with low-light conditions, different types of substances and simulated suspects in an enclosed area,” Ramos said. “These joint exercises with the Marine Corps and other agencies are instrumental in providing the dogs and their handlers the necessary expertise to perform at optimum levels when the real deal arrives.”

The chief trainer for the MCAS Yuma Working Dog Program is Corporal Marlon Madison. A graduate of the Lackland Air Force Base Department of Defense Working Dog School in Texas, Madison is highly skilled in the techniques used in patrol, drug and explosive detection, and specialized mission functions for the DoD and other government agencies.

“This job provides the opportunity to work with a cross-section of people from all walks of life,” Madison said. “It was an honor to work with the Secret Service and other staff to protect the President of the United States and to aid national security.”

“We’ve had great progress in transitioning our dogs into the program, learning new techniques and continuing to grow the bond between dogs and handlers with help from Corporal Madison and the rest of the team,” Ramos said.

The Marine Corps Air Station Yuma Working Dog Program team members also include Corporals Stanley Chapter, Augustine Garcia, and Josh Townsend; and Lance Corporals Bret Reynolds, Matthew Balady, Dustin Campbell and Tyler Morgan.

Officer Chad Conley, an eight-year law enforcement veteran, with prior K-9 operation experience and certifications and Officer Omar Villacorta, an eight-year law enforcement veteran, with prior service as a SWAT member round out the Cocopah Tribal Police team.

The Cocopah Tribal Police department has announced its K-9s will be available to groups, organizations and schools for presentations. The officers’ talk will focus on the work done by these tribal police dogs to better facilitate an understanding of the team’s role within the community.