The Clinton Police Department recently hired its first police dog that will aid the department in its efforts to track down drugs in the community, Clinton’s police chief said.

Wrex, a 3-year-old yellow lab, was donated to the department by a state trooper two weeks ago, though Chief Stanley “Rusty” Bell said the idea has been in the works for more than a year.

Wrex and his handler, Officer Jimmy Leathers, have now started training six times a month with All Points Maine Police Canines, an organization that provides training to police K-9s in Franklin, Kennebec, Knox, Somerset and Washington counties. Bell and Leathers hope to have Wrex out on the job in February after he gains certification.

Wrex will be used for traffic stops when drugs are suspected to be present inside a vehicle. His services can be used by other agencies in addition to Clinton, according to Bell.

“Wrex will be used for drug detection,” Bell said. “Surrounding communities will be able to call on him if they have a vehicle stopped and suspect they might have drug activity. He’ll be able to perform a search and determine whether there’s probable cause for the officer to go in further.”

Wrex is being trained to detect cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and MDMA or ecstasy, according to Leathers.

Officer Jimmy Leathers tries to keep his new K-9 companion, Wrex, in the cruiser Friday at the Clinton Police Department.

“Drugs are a real issue and I know that there’s a lot that goes on in the town,” Bell said. “The biggest thing I hear from people is, ‘what are you doing about drugs?’ and I think this (Wrex) is a piece of getting what might be coming in and out of the town.”

Leathers, who has been with the department since April 2018, said Wrex is a natural at police work.

“He’s doing great in training. He’s been making some really big strides so far,” Leathers said.

Bell and Leathers presented Wrex and their plans to the town’s board of selectmen at a meeting on Tuesday evening. During the presentation, Bell said that bringing Wrex onto the team not only allows the department to improve its efforts tracking down drugs, but he also represents a way to invest in the officers.

“As we go through the idea of developing our department and working toward the future looking at ways to invest in the officers,” Bell said. “If we’re innovative, hopefully we have better success of some retention of our officers, and if we can create good officers, more will want to come here … our guys are here because they want to be here, and I want to create something that will entice them to stick around.”

Leathers said that Wrex could also improve the relationship between the department and the community.

“It’s exciting. We’ll be able to be a more important asset,” Leathers said. “I feel like it could also change some people’s outlook on the Clinton Police Department, make it more positive.”

According to Bell, the exact amount of Wrex’s expenses are still being calculated. Bell, Leathers and town manager Earla Haggerty are working on a contract to flesh out the details of Wrex’s employment.

“My goal is to minimize any financial impact on the town,” Bell said. “We’ll put together a transparent working document between me, the town manager and Jimmy … we have him (Wrex) in the 2020 budget so Jimmy will get a stipend every week for taking care of him.”

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