The Cook County Sheriff’s Office welcomes a new addition to its team who has quickly become the apple of everyone’s eye. This furry colleague cuddles up to their feet, has a penchant for salmon, and possesses an incredible talent for sniffing out electronic devices.
Meet Boone, a 1-and-a-half-year-old Labrador and golden retriever mix, the office’s dedicated electronic detection canine. Boone’s mission is to assist investigators in locating crucial devices such as hard drives, cell phones, and memory cards.
Sgt. James Draz of the Cook County Sheriff’s Special Victims Unit describes Boone’s expertise with admiration: “If Boone signals, there’s no question of whether something is there; it’s all about pinpointing its exact location.” During our interview, Boone, in his characteristic laid-back fashion, occasionally dozes off.
Boone’s extraordinary olfactory skills were on full display during a training exercise in a creek, where he successfully detected a submerged cellphone. Even the tempting aroma of food failed to distract him when a hidden phone was placed inside a refrigerator.
Boone was generously donated to the Sheriff’s Office by Operation Underground Railroad, an organization dedicated to combatting sex trafficking. After a rigorous two-week training program in Indiana, Boone officially joined the team on November 14.
In just two months, Boone has already played a pivotal role in several successful device discoveries during Chicagoland searches, as attested by Kathy Carmody, the Sheriff’s Office’s Director of Public Relations.
In one remarkable incident, Boone subtly signaled by emitting a soft puff near a television stand. This puff is one of his telltale signs that he’s detected an electronic device. He then fixated on handler Daniel Codd and remained still, indicating the presence of the sought-after device. Boone consistently exhibits this behavior when he detects the chemical triphenylphosphine oxide, which prevents devices from overheating. Following the lead, Boone guided Codd to a micro SD card, containing vital information for their case.
Working with Boone is likened to a dance partnership, requiring precise synchronization, according to Codd. “He can either dash towards a scent he detects immediately, and I must keep up, or he might proceed cautiously and deliberately when he knows he’s near the exact item. Just as in dance, you want to ensure your steps are perfectly aligned, and it’s much the same with Boone and me.”
Sheriff Tom Dart emphasized the significance of Boone’s contribution to their work, stating, “The nature of these crimes is, sadly, on an exponential rise, and we are constantly overwhelmed by them. Electronic devices are pivotal in these cases, and Boone has truly transformed our ability to build strong cases.”
Beyond his role as an electronic detection specialist, Boone serves as an emotional support dog. He has provided comfort during interviews with victims, reducing tension and anxiety. Even in the office, his mere presence, whether he’s napping on his bed or engaging with the staff, boosts morale among the officers.
Boone’s impact on the Cook County Sheriff’s Office is undeniable, as he continues to be an invaluable asset in their fight against crime.