SHOW LOW — A large group of mostly K-9 police units gathered in Show Low from around the state on Feb. 19, to hear experts from the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) officials offer tips and tricks the units must master to help catch drug dealers.

Freshly appointed Navajo County Sheriff David Clouse introduced himself to the crowd, telling them that he’s only held the job for a week, but will be sure to continue the good work done by his department over the years. He praised the assistance of HIDTA in their ability to maintain the Major Crimes Apprehension Team (MCAT).

Navajo County Chief Deputy Randy Moffitt also spoke on his considerable experience in fighting drug trafficking in the county and some of the things he has dealt with. Moffitt then introduced one of his leaders in the fight.

One of the best and most productive officers in Navajo County is Deputy Dan Deets who, along with his K-9, Legend, have taken a serious bite out of the transport of drugs in his 10-plus years on duty. The job of approaching drug-transporting vehicles alongside the highway can be dangerous. Deets patrols the I-40 corridor and he has seen a lot of action.

People like Deets spoke to the crowd of officers on what to look for, how to spot suspicious vehicles and how to approach them. He also pointed out that no one should profile people based on race, creed, color, or origin, because as officers of the law, one person acting that way could ruin their good reputation for the rest of them.

He said all kinds of people do the transporting and you never know what to expect. There was a slideshow of some suspects, showing that they can be lawyers, bikers, gang and cartel members, women and men. But Deets does have a special sense of what to look for and it can’t be shared with the public for obvious reasons. He was there to share his knowledge and hopefully save the lives and long careers of the officers that have to do this dangerous task.

An official from HIDTA also spoke and said they have many training sessions available to officers that do this kind of work. The HIDTA program, created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, provides assistance to Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States.

The meeting in the Darrin Reed Community Room of the Show Low Public Safety Building was attended by tribal police, Arizona Department of Transportation, Department of Public Safety troopers, Navajo, Gila and Pima counties, Winslow, Pinetop-Lakeside and several other entities.

Navajo County performs these drug interdiction classes about 3-4 times per year, and according to Moffitt, the training helps build the officer’s credibility in court.

Reach the reporter at bmartinson@wmicentral.com

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