Justin Mills, Kukui

Deputy Justin Mills introduces the Graham County Sheriff’s Office’s new K9 officer, Kukui, at Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

SAFFORD — During an Aug. 19 Graham County Board of Supervisors meeting, the Graham County Sheriff’s Office introduced its new K9 officer to the community.

The dog, a Dutch shepherd named Kukui, was purchased through an $18,500 grant by United Way of Graham and Greenlee Counties, which also covered adapting a vehicle for Kukui’s use. United Way CEO Adam O’Doherty presented Sheriff P.J. Allred with the grant check during the supervisors’ meeting.

“We’re grateful to the United Way; they’ve been very helpful in getting us back on board,” Allred said. “We’re definitely grateful to have the dog back with us.”

A previous GCSO K9 program was disbanded due to handlers leaving for other agencies.

Kukui’s handler, Deputy Justin Mills, said he was a dual- purpose narcotic and scent-tracking K9 capable of detecting methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and marijuana. Kukui accompanies Mills on daily patrols and has helped other law enforcement agencies by searching vehicles for narcotics. Mills said Kukui can also aid Graham County Search and Rescue in missing persons cases or track escaped inmates.

“He’ll have a positive impact here in our county,” Allred said. “We’ve already used this K9 to search vehicles for other agencies. That’s what community policing is all about: working together and helping other agencies as well as our community.”

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