LOCAL NEWS

Kuma the K-9 Joins TorC Police Force

By Kathleen Sloan

HERALD Reporter

Kuma means bear in Japanese, said Truth or Consequences Police Officer Leonard Stufflebean outside commission chambers before the regular meeting of the Truth or Consequences City Commission on Tuesday, March 13.

Stufflebean said he got Kuma as a pup and has been working with him over the last three years. He got his dog handler’s license, and now he and his dog have gotten a narcotics detection license for cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana.

Stufflebean and Kuma attended the North American Police Work Dog Association trainings and testings in Los Lunas. Less than one-gram amounts had to be detected behind cabinets and doors or other out-of-the-way places in four different settings: a room, a vehicle, luggage and outside. The team was graded pass/fail, which demanded 100 percent detection. The team passed with flying colors.

Stufflebean “acted on his own and on his own time,” said TCPD Captain James Morgan, explaining the extraordinary efforts the team has made, whose talents and efforts will now benefit the community.

This will be the second narcotics K-9 team the city will employ. In March 2007, Priscilla Mullins, then captain but now chief of police, served with Bram, who then served with two other handlers. Bram retired March 2011 and lives with his third handler, who resigned from the Truth or Consequences Police Department.

During that time, 25 narcotic cases resulted in the seizure of about $55,000 of drug money. A portion of that money went to the police department and was used “to purchase needed equipment,” according to a report prepared by Mullins.

Stufflebean thanked Susie Jean of Vest’N Police Dog Program of Socorro, who donated Kuma’s $1,500 bulletproof vest.

This reporter asked to take a picture of Kuma, who wore the vest and a muzzle outside city chambers. Stufflebean declined, stating he needed the dog’s identity and looks to remain unknown to better serve as a narcotics officer. What can be said is he is bigger than a breadbox and smaller than a bear, and he’s got the police stare down pat.

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