The LA County Sheriff's Department has sworn in its youngest deputy. He's one and a half years old and his name is Satoshi, a black Labrador Retriever.
"And, he is trained to alert on electronic devices."
Sergeant Pete Hish is with the department's Cyber Crimes Bureau and says Satoshi goes by Tosh for short.
"He is an electronic sniffer. He is very particular in the types of electronics he can sniff. The electronics have to have some sort of storage capacity to them like a flash drive, a cell phone, a hard drive, laptop, things of that nature. "
Hish says Tosh is the first of its kind for the department.
He's an actual canine with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
"Yes, sir. Actually, he was just sworn in by the sheriff. He has a badge and ID card and he is a deputy sheriff here on our department."
So you got to explain this. So he's able to go in and sniff a computer hard drive and tell us what?
"Tell us that there is an electronic storage device there is what he tells us. He can't tell us what's on it obviously, we don't even know what's on it, but he can tell us that right here in this area, in this box, in this pile of clothes, under this rock, in this sprinkler head wherever, that there is electronic storage device there. And that gives the investigators have the ability to further look into that area and find the devices that may be hidden"
Hish says Satoshi was donated by Operation Underground Railroad, a non-profit aimed at stopping child exploitation. The black lab's ongoing expenses are covered by a state grant. Hish says there's meaning behind the name Satoshi.
"We wanted to give him some sort of a cyber name, an electronics name so we figured hey, Bitcoin has a name within Bitcoin called satoshi. A satoshi is a fraction of a Bitcoin. So, we figured that would be a good name for him and we call them that. He actually can find Bitcoin hardware wallets. So during an investigation, some kind of a fraud investigation, or some kind of extortion or something where Bitcoin was used, he can actually go to the location on a search warrant and locate these wallets that contain Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies."
A Bitcoin sniff dog.
"Yeah, you could call him that. He can sniff out Bitcoin as long as it's on a hardware wallet, yeah."
So, how would Satoshi do with a radio reporter's gear bag filled with recording devices and other electronics?
Okay, so I gotta get to know this guy a little bit.
Come here, buddy. Come here, boy.
Okay, okay, let's stop for a moment. For the next few seconds me and Sergeant Hish as grown men cannot be held responsible for the way we're going to talk to the dog, okay?
[laughing] "Get the microphone out too you since you're recording there."
Yeah, I noticed that, and then yeah, cuz you figure I got three or four different hard drive devices in there.
"Yeah, yeah, he'll do it. I'll show you real quick how he alerts real quick. Tosh. You have stuff in there, in your bag?"
Yeah, Yeah, I should. Yeah.
"Tosh, come here. Let's go to work, buddy. Come on. Let's go to work. [dog sniffing] See, see, see, see...see him sit?. You're telling me it's there? Show me. Yes. Good boy! Good boy! Good boy! Good boy!"
"That's basically it."
So yeah, so he was able to sniff out that I had little hard drives.
Okay, back to serious. Hish says Tosh is going to be busy and has already helped a federal agency with a case and will be at it all week.
Like other canine units, does he stay with you 24/7?
"Yes. He has a great life. He is with us here at the office all day long. He knows the crew here, he gets along with them to take him for walks, they play with him. He goes home with me at the end of the day, he hooks up with my other dog. The first thing he does when he gets home is he goes in the backyard hooks up with my other dog and they're in the pool."
All in a day's work.