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BCI has a new officer

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Dave Thompson, Prairie Public
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"Agent Lee"

North Dakota’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation has a new officer.

His name is Agent Lee. He's a black Labrador Retriever. And he’s an “accelerent sniffing” dog. That means he can be used to investigate suspicious fires, to determine if some kind of substance was used to start a fire.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said BCI has two other dogs, that are used to detect drugs and electronic devices.

"After we had the other two dogs, and they've proven their worth, we realized there are a lot of fires that may be suspicious, and we could use something like 'Agent Lee' to assist us in the investigations," Stenehjem said.

Stenehjem said 'Agent Lee' could determine if there was an accelerent involved.

"Very often, they can see if there was not one involved," Stenehjem said. "That's equally very useful."

Agent Lee was in training from October through December. His handler – BCI agent Luke Kapella – said he thinks Agent Lee will be a great help in fire investigations.

"A lot of times, when an ignitable liquid is used in a fire, that liquid doesn't get all burned up," Kapella said. "It can leak under baseboards, or leak into a carpet," Kapella said. "He can tell where accelerent was used."

For example, Kapella said if someone were to dump an igniting fluid on an electrical outlet, you might think it's an electrical fire.

"But with the dog smelling accelerents, you take a sample of that and send it to the state Crime Lab, it can be analyzed, and determined that an accelerent was used," Kapella said.

Agent Lee will also be available for local law enforcement investigations.

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