Source: ABC News Online
Date: 20 May 2005

Cocaine mix-up on the nose for sniffer dogs

cocaine sniffer dog talcum powder sniffer dog

An investigation is under way into how a cocaine sample, used for Victorian police sniffer dog training, was substituted with talcum powder.

An audit has revealed one sample contained a white talc-like substance.

The Australian Federal Police supply the cocaine to their Victorian counterparts.

Victorian Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Evans says the Ethical Standards Division is investigating the bungle.

"We had an issue raised to us late last week where we believed that through our internal audit systems we were missing a small amount of cocaine," he said.

"But subsequently our early investigations show that it's an administrative error and that in fact one of the satchels that we did receive did contain talcum powder."

Further forensic testing is now under way and Assistant Commissioner Evans says the dogs involved will need to be re-trained.

"I'm sure our dogs have got very soft, nice smelling noses at the moment, but they are in fact trained in detecting talcum powder so that means that they will have to be re-trained in detecting cocaine," he said.

Victoria's Police Minister, Tim Holding, says he is disappointed about the bungle.

Mr Holding says an investigation will get to the bottom of the embarrassing mistake.

"I was surprised and I was disappointed. Obviously any issues around the handling of drugs that Victoria Police hold for legitimate operational purposes needs to be sensitively handled," he said.

"In this instance we just want to be confident that the proper mechanisms and safeguards are put in place."

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