The cache of recovered narcotics included more than 500 “decks” of heroin and seven bags of pot. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


Red Bank’s police dog found a load of illegal drugs discarded by a fleeing suspect Wednesday night, Chief Darren McConnell tells redbankgreen.

Hunter, who’s partnered with Patrolman Stan Balmer, has been on the job since March, 2015. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

The incident began at about 8:30 p.m. when Patrolman Stan Balmer of the K9 unit stopped a vehicle on Oakland Street near the train station for a traffic violation, McConnell said.

A rear seat passenger, identified as Jahvon Wells, immediately fled on foot carrying a black bag, he said.

While Balmer secured the vehicle and other occupants — two adults and three small children — he was able to direct Patrolman Matt Ehrenreich via radio about the suspect’s apparent path, which included jumping several fences, McConnell said.

Ehrenreich apprehended Wells without incident in the rail yard behind the Eastern Seals factory on Pearl Street, about two blocks from where the traffic stop occurred, McConnell said. But the bag was missing.

Balmer, utilizing K-9 Hunter, then conducted a track along the general taken by Wells.  The dog found the discarded satchel hidden behind a fence, McConnell said.

“It couldn’t be seen from the road,” McConnell said. “An officer walking the path probably wouldn’t have found it.”

McConnell said the bag contained 500 decks, or doses, of heroin, along with seven large bags of marijuana that had not yet been officially weighted.

Additionally, Wells was found at the time of his arrest to be in possession of 81 bars, or “heavy doses,” of Xanax for which he did not possess a valid prescription, he said.

Wells, a 30-year-old Long Branch resident, was charged multiple counts of drug possession, intent to distribute and to do so within a school zone. He was also charged with resisting arrest by flight and trespassing. He was transported to the Monmouth County Correctional Institution.

Hunter, a Belgian Malinois who became the first four-legged member in department history two years ago, is assigned full-time to Balmer.

The K9 unit is expected to double in size this month when a second tracker dog, named Eko (pronounced echo), is slated to join the force. Another Belgian Malinois, he’ll be paired up with Patrolman Tanner Shea, said McConnell.

The addition will give the police seven nights a week of K9 coverage, McConnell said. The dogs are on routine warrant executions; to sniff out drugs and missing persons; for crowd control; and to help dissuade individuals from using violence.

Hunter’s been deployed on more than 200 K9 incidents over the past two years, McConnell said recently.