CRIME

Arizona Cops Just Deputized A ‘Drug-Hunting’ Lizard

An Arizona city has a new sheriff in town — and it's a lizard named "Officer Iroh"

CRIME
Avondale AZ Police Department
Apr 17, 2017 at 12:09 PM ET

An Arizona city has a new sheriff in town — and it’s a lizard.

“Iroh,” a bearded dragon lizard, is the former mascot of the Avondale Police Department. He is now Officer Iroh after being officially sworn in and given a badge by the department’s police chief last week, according to the department’s Facebook page.

Officer Iroh’s ascent from mascot to cop began in April of 2016, when the APD announced that it was starting a pilot program to see whether lizards could be taught to sniff out drugs the way dogs have been.

“Research has shown that reptiles possess a strong sense of smell making their ability to detect certain illicit drugs possibly more accurate than K9s,” the APD wrote in a Facebook post announcing the program. “Our pilot program drug sniffing bearded dragon will be assisting Officers in the City. Please help us welcome Iroh!”

But can lizards really be trained to hunt drugs? Of course not — the whole thing was an April Fools gag that has taken on a life of its own on social media over the last year as the APD has chronicled Iroh supposedly aiding officers doing various tasks.

“Iroh has turned out to be a valuable member of the Avondale Police family,” the APD posted on Facebook in February, along with a photo of the lizard on a department motorcycle and perched on a radar gun. “His skill set is so extensive that we have cross trained him in many areas…Today he is keeping our streets safe running radar with Motors.”

In another post, he’s shown sitting on an officer’s shoulder as she filled out paperwork. “Today he is working closely with Assistant Chief Parkin reviewing some of her paperwork,” the post reads.