As reported by various media outlets, the legalization of marijuana in New Mexico means many K-9 units with police agencies across the state will no longer be able to continue their current duties. This will be the case in Carlsbad.
We first want everyone to know that our current K-9s, Aris and Alex, will be fine. They will either retire to a home or move to another community and resume their working roles. The third K-9, Nia, has already shifted her career over to Anthony, Texas.
This legislation created a problem because the dogs are trained – extensively- to alert to the presence of an odor from a controlled substance, but they can’t communicate whether it is, for example, meth, or marijuana, which is now legal. Police would normally get a search warrant if the dog indicates an alert – but now this presents situations where this alert could be for a legal substance if the individual is in possession of marijuana. It would even present probable cause issues in instances where other drugs were found, resulting in dismissed charges.
“Extinction training,” as it is termed, is currently in litigation, this references the inability to retrain the dogs and have them “unlearn” identifying marijuana to only focus on drugs that remain illegal, as we understand.
It’s certainly a frustrating situation – the City (supported by local individuals and companies) invested a considerable amount of time and money into our K-9 program. Furthermore, the program was working very well and the dogs were doing their jobs in helping us find illegal drugs. The state legalization effort did not include any plan for compensating communities who suddenly had to restructure and or even abandon their K-9 programs.
Our K-9 program has been very successful, thanks to Chief Shane Skinner and officers with the Carlsbad Police Department. It is certainly an effort we are interested in resuming in the future.
On a more positive note, our summer concert series is back in full swing. We took a week off from the series due to the Fourth of July festivities, but we’ll have the very talented Robin Scott performing for us from 7-9 p.m. this Saturday (July 10) at the gazebo near the Carlsbad Water Park. A local band, Art Vandeley, will be performing on July 17. These concerts are free and – of course – open to the public. Bring your blankets and lawn chairs. For more information on Robin Scott, who often visits Carlsbad to perform at the Yellow Brix, please visit https://www.therobinscott.com/
Another big event on the horizon will be the 76th Annual Eddy County Fair, scheduled for July 27 through Aug. 1 at the fairgrounds in Artesia. This year’s fair will include a chili cookoff, ice-cream making contest, anvil toss, Junior Livestock show, bull riding and a Friday performance featuring Flatland Cavalry.
Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway