COMMUNITY | By Keila dos Santos
The Oaks Welcomes Unconventional Guests
The town of Ojai is still abuzz with mystery about what is happening at The Oaks facility. Undoubtedly, this conversation only escalated after a bandwagon of canine police vehicles rolled into and occupied The Oaks parking lot on August 21st, 2018.
While the management team is focused on bringing The Oaks facility back to optimal health, they created an opportunity to utilize the vacant space in service to the community. Knowing that friend and local business owner, Tim LaPrelle, has been working with Police K-9 training units in Ventura County for decades, The Cluff Family was happy to extend The Oaks at Ojai property to the K-9 training teams. LaPrelle facilitated a visit by guests unlike any The Oaks have ever hosted before.
LaPrelle was accompanied by Inglis Police Dog Academy’s Chief Trainer, Daniel Inglis. They ventured into the facilities with officers from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, Santa Paula Police Department, and Ventura Police Department … and nine of their closest furry friends. When asked how Inglis got into the business, he said, “My dad started the business … I was the youngest of six and the only one that showed talent with the dogs.”
Ventura County Peace Officers
Calls for homeless and drug related incidents have been on the rise since the Thomas Fire. The canine unit is charged with responding to many of these calls. Jack Ortega, officer with the Ventura Police Department said, “People are more comfortable calling the police ever since the Aloha Incident,” referring to one such incident involving an Oak View man that ended fatally.
Accompanying the Ventura and Santa Paula police departments were the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, who operate as the local police in Ojai. Most canine officers with the Sheriff’s department start off working in the jails and are transferred to fieldwork based on seniority.
On working in the field with police dogs, Officer Holmes said, “… at the end of the day, you gotta love what you do. When I started, I hated dope. Everything about it … That’s why I got excited to get into tracking … it brought more of the detective part into it, and I love that.”
As officers and staff began to scope out the location, Ventura Police Officer Victor Holmes stopped abruptly on alert, “Is that smoke I’m smelling?” Assistant Director of Operations, Kyle Griffith explained that extensive smoke damage has resulted in nearly a year of closure.
About the Training
Before embarking on their five to seven-year career, all police dogs undergo five weeks of patrol school which consists of about 220-250 hours for each dog. Afterward, they undergo weekly training with their handlers in various locations. LaPrelle has worked
When doing a training session, dogs are taken through two separate courses, to identify narcotics and ballistics. When seeking out narcotics, officers will hide drug samples in small spaces where they would actually be encountered in a real-life scenario. As the Oaks staff followed Officer Holmes further explained, “Every dog has their tells. He (police dog, Yehven) can tell where odor pools … which comes with experience. You’ve gotta know your dog. That’s where the handler part comes in.”
Officer Victor Flores went on, “hotels are great because of all the different smells …it’s great to
do searches in different buildings because it gives the dog a lot of different experiences when doing their job.”
Once the officers were out of earshot, Trainer Inglis clarified “A major goal of this weekly training is to train these guys (the officers). The dogs will follow the officers’ queues and go right to the spot if we tell them where the suspect or contraband is located. We need to reinforce that they remember to follow the dog, instead of the other way around.”
It doesn’t take a detective to uncover the reality that there is still a lot of detoxification for The Oaks before they are can welcome back and offer the quality that brings in their health-conscious clientele. In the meantime, however, the team is thinking outside of the box and working to transmute an undesirable situation into a beneficial opportunity.
If you would like to host a police dog training please reach out. You can follow the exploits of Ventura’s most popular canines by following them on instagram @VCSDcanineunit