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Nala, a 4-year-old English Labrador retriever, is a specially trained electronic storage detection (ESD) K9 in the Seattle Police Department, focused on combating child sexual exploitation. She can sniff out electronic storage devices such as smartphones, hard drives, and micro SD cards. Nala is one of two dogs in Washington state trained for this job, and she works alongside her handler, SPD Det. Daljit Gill, who has been with the department for 18 years. The ESD K9s are food motivated, only eating when they find a device, making Labs an ideal breed for this work.

During a recent demonstration at a Seattle PD facility, Nala showcased her skills by locating hidden electronic storage items such as thumb drives and hard drives in a conference room. The dogs are trained to sniff out the odor of a chemical compound used in electronics production. Nala’s role during a warrant search is likened to a flashlight, as she can detect areas that human officers may overlook. About 30% of the time, Nala finds devices that were missed by humans. Her work is crucial in combatting child sexual exploitation and helping to bring perpetrators to justice.

Seattle PD’s ICAC task force, which Nala is a part of, has seen a surge in cybercrime cases since the COVID-19 pandemic, with an increase in cases of soliciting minors and sharing child sexual abuse material. Washington Governor Jay Inslee recently signed a bill creating penalties for distributing or viewing digitally altered explicit images of identifiable minors. Todd Jordan, a K9 trainer, emphasizes the importance of electronic detection dogs in combating internet crimes, highlighting their effectiveness in investigating cases involving child exploitation and abuse.

Despite the challenging nature of the work done by Seattle PD’s ICAC task force, Nala brings a sense of therapy to the team. She is people-friendly and provides comfort and companionship in their line of work. Labs are known for their friendly nature, making Nala a great fit for the task force that deals with cases involving children. Plush toys and dog beds are seen in the team’s office, creating a more welcoming environment. Nala has her own trading card and stuffed animal version, adding a lighthearted touch to a tough job.

Nala follows in the footsteps of a previous ESD K9 named Bear, who helped locate crucial evidence in high-profile cases involving child exploitation. Bear, who retired in 2021, was instrumental in assisting SPD with various investigations. Nala and other ESD K9s are trained by experts like Todd Jordan, who emphasizes the importance of these dogs in modern law enforcement efforts. Electronic detection dogs are becoming increasingly vital in investigating internet crimes and bringing offenders to justice.

Nala’s work with SPD’s ICAC task force showcases the critical role that K9s play in combatting child sexual exploitation and internet crimes. Her ability to sniff out electronic storage devices helps in locating evidence that can be crucial in investigations and prosecutions. Despite the challenging and often disturbing nature of the work, Nala provides comfort and companionship to her handler and the rest of the task force. The increase in cybercrime cases underscores the importance of specialized units like the ICAC task force, using innovative methods like ESD K9s to tackle modern-day challenges in law enforcement.

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