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Remembering URL- ICAC’s Beloved Partner

It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to our beloved URL. URL began work with the Utah ICAC Task Force in 2016 and was one of the first ESD K9s to be deployed. URL was pivotal in uncovering hidden electronic items which proved to be key evidence in several cases. Read about URL below, authored by his handler, Cam Hartman.

“URL” is a black American Labrador Retriever born on February 14, 2015. “URL’s” early life was very difficult as he intentionally found his way into two different animal shelters and one foster home. In September 2015 he was returned to Integrated Animal Care Center (IACC) by an adopter as he was deemed untrainable, loud, not good on a leash, and a biter. But what “URL” did possess was “drive” and plenty of that. Central Indiana Labrador Rescue & Adoption (CILRA) then intervened and were committed to finding “URL” a proper home.

At this time, electronic storage canine detection was in its infancy with only a few dogs having been trained in the discipline and placed in police service. Having worked with Todd Jordan of Jordan Detection K9 (Greenfield, IN) with prior dogs used in various disciplines for service CILRA contacted him and arranged for him to examine “URL.” Todd Jordan had successfully trained the original ESDK-9 “Bear” (Seattle, WA), followed by ESDK-9 “Daisy” (New York City, NY), and ESDK-9 “Brody” (Houston, TX). Todd Jordan was looking for additional dogs to train on the discipline of electronic storage detection.

In October 2015, Weber County Sheriff’s Office Detective Cam Hartman attended the Northwest Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Conference where he met Officer Ian Polhemus and his ESDK-9 “Bear.” This was the dog that was responsible for finding key electronic evidence in both the Jared Fogel (Subway Spokesman) and Marvin Sharpe (U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Coach) criminal cases. That’s when the “lightbulb went off” as it was considered as to how many ICAC search warrants in Utah that had been completed where digital evidence on storage devices could have been missing.

Upon returning from the conference Detective Cam Hartman spoke with his chain of command expressing to them a great deal of interest in bringing an ESDK9 not only to Weber County but to the entire state of Utah. Authorization was granted and on Friday, May 6, 2016, Detective Cam Hartman made the 1500-mile (one-way) drive from Ogden, Utah to Greenfield, Indiana to pick up URL. On the morning of Sunday May 8, 2016, URL was delivered to Detective Cam Hartman.

“URL” was deployed on over two hundred search warrants, most of which were to further investigate the crimes of Child Sexual Exploitation Material and Child Sexual Abuse Material. “URL” had a success rate of approximately 22% in all of his search warrants which resulted in “URL” recovering dozens of critical pieces of digital evidence that would have otherwise been overlooked and even misplaced by task force agents. He even played another crucial role by providing emotional support to officers who work in the stressful areas of child exploitation. Also lending emotional support to some of the children who were home at the time of the search warrants, scared and with no idea why the police were inside their homes.

Some of the most remarkable finds of evidence from “URL” were finding a USB drive disguised as a key on a keyring full of keys, finding a micro-SD card in a closed baby jar that was in a small pencil box full of items that was also placed in a large cedar chest full of miscellaneous items, an SD Card that was high on a shelf in a St. George, Utah residence, a cell phone hidden in a book, and even cell phone parts that were hidden in a wall behind a toilet in the Weber County Jail.

“URL’s” uniqueness and nickname “The Porn Sniffing Dog” caused quite a bit of interest after his arrival to Utah which resulted in hundreds of local, national, and international news media stories. Even appearances on local and national radio shows and news outlets. Some of the most notable to feature the team were Inside Edition, The New York Daily News, Breitbart, The Drudge Report, The Washington Post, The Kim Komando Show, The Daily Mail (UK), and The Sun (UK) just to name a few. In August 2016, CNN sent journalist Ana Cabrera to interview and film “URL” for a story titled, “Pound Puppy Turned Police Porn Dog.” Perhaps the greatest recognition came when the team was flown to Los Angeles, California in June 2017 to be interviewed by celebrity Terry Crews and featured on the longest running reality television show, “Cops” (Season 30, Episode 12).

Letter to URL from Cam

Dear “URL”,

What a privilege it was to serve alongside you. “URL” my heart is broken and still filled with so many memories and emotions. I am so lucky to have been able to get to know you and serve the citizens of Utah and its surrounding states with you. You brought so much joy to the children who were home during search warrants, the countless kids of all ages as I got to show you off at dozens of public schools, colleges, public demonstrations, and church groups. So many incredible experiences and opportunities that you brought me as I was just the guy at the boring end of the leash holding on for dear life. Thank you, “URL”, for trusting me, for working so hard, for loving me unconditionally, and for being part of my family. You were always there for me as I benefited from your talent in helping to catch some of the wolves that live among us. I don’t take any of the time you gave me for granted. It’s been an unbelievable honor to have been the largest part of your unstable life. I will miss you terribly until I get to see you again.

Love, your boss Cam.