Officers Train to Find Drugs and Contraband in Vehicle Searches - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Officers Train to Find Drugs and Contraband in Vehicle Searches

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- Officers from across the state came to Kennewick Thursday to learn how to search cars and vehicles for illegal drugs and contraband.

Criminals are hiding drugs, weapons and money in some rather unique places.

Police find them in places like the car engine, underneath the steering wheel and behind panels just to name a few.

Officers practiced pulling apart cars to out smart the smugglers.

"It gives them the confidence that, hey this isn't right. This isn't normal, maybe there is something going on here. This interdiction class helps them gain that confidence in looking into the vehicle to determine if they're hauling drugs," said Sgt. Darin Foster, Washington State Patrol drug recognition specialist.

"Discovering all the natural voids that are created when they manufacture the vehicle and these are the areas that the smuggler will use to hide their drugs or their money," said Det. Brian Pochert, Kennewick Police Department.

It's not just cars that criminals are using to transport their illegal stash.

They're increasingly packing their contraband into commercial trucks.

Officers look inside commercial trucks, inside cargo, between palates and they're even looking for false walls to see if there's any drugs or contraband hidden behind them.

Officers say the training teaches them to look in all the areas where they may not normally look during a routine vehicle search.

K9s help sniff out spots where drugs could be hiding, but officers say they need to be a step ahead of the creative criminals.

"We have to have an open mind and we have to look everywhere," Pochert said.

Officers also spent time in the classroom to learn about the search techniques, but Thursday gave them a hands on opportunity to practice their new skills.