MSP’s only female K-9 cop is a tech whiz

Jonathan Oosting

Lansing – Michigan State Police has hired a new specialist to help fight high-technology crime: Kibbey, the department’s first female K-9 cop since 2009.

“I think it’s about time,” State Police Director Col. Kriste Etue told legislators Tuesday in a budget committee hearing.

Kibbey, a black Labrador from England who is just under a year-and-a-half old, joins more than 40 male German Shepherds in the MSP Canine Unit. Many of her colleagues specialize in sniffing out drugs and explosives, but she is the first being trained for computers.

No, she doesn’t write code, but Etue said Kibbey is being taught to smell a glue commonly used in computer equipment, which will allow her to discover high-tech evidence that criminals may try to hide from human authorities.

“It’s a unique smell apparently to that glue that’s contained in every piece of computer equipment,” Etue said.

A dog with similarly rare sniffing skills made national headlines in 2015 when Indiana authorities charged former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle with possession of child pornography.

A 2-year-old black Labrador named Bear reportedly sniffed out a hidden thumb drive that humans had missed during their initial search of Fogle’s home.

“If you remember Jared, the Subway guy, he had hid all his evidence in a wall,” Etue said. “This is when computer dogs first came into play. The dog hit on a wall, they cut a big hole in the wall, and there was this stash of materials.”

Kibbey just began a six-week training course in “cyber-detection,” said State Police spokeswoman Shanon Banner. She will be trained to discover material that is used on mass storage devices, like cellphones, thumb drives and hard drives.

The State Police boasts more than 40 police dogs stationed throughout the state and says the unit handles more than 5,000 requests for service a year, making it one of the largest and busiest units of its kind in the country.

After eight years on the job, State Police police dogs retire to civilian life with their handler or another owner.