After much anticipation and planning the new K-9 has arrived in Ellis County and his training is actively underway.

As you may recall, we had two K-9 teams up until one left our agency. We initiated a short term goal of replacing that team and a long term goal of having a K-9 on each shift. Now, after many months, the short term goal is accomplished.

The selection process was more than putting out a memo asking, “Who wants to be a K-9 cop?” The person selected went through a series of interviews, home inspection (after all, the dog has certain needs for space), physical agility testing, and even interviewing his wife (because she will be agreeing to another full time member in the house).  The interview process for the deputy was by experienced K-9 handlers from inside our agency and by outside agencies. We truly wanted the experienced professionals in the K-9 business to give us their assessment.

Our senior K-9 deputy, Corporal Mike McCorkle, has been in the K-9 portion of law enforcement for several years. Prior to coming to Ellis County he was assigned K-9 duties in Cedar Hill.

Mike was charged with locating the best possible dog for our program, identifying a trainer that had the right credentials along with a proven track record, setting up the three month training program for the dog and handler, and becoming a certified dog trainer himself. Mike succeeded in his mission and as word got out about the training he started receiving calls from other agencies. Now, along with our personnel being trained, Waxahachie P.D., Carrollton P.D. and Texarkana (Texas) P.D. are attending all or portions of the training being held here in Ellis County.

Our dogs are trained for both narcotics and patrol. The dog will be able to do “free air sniffing” for narcotics or he could be called for sniffing out narcotics on search warrants. On the patrol side the dog will be trained for tracking and detaining. Under limited circumstances the tracking could be beneficial when searching for a lost child but more often the tracking will be for a fleeing felon.

The cost of a K-9 program is not cheap. The dog cost $9,500, the 480 hour trainer course cost $10,000 and the 480 hour dog handler course is $4,500. When you consider the vehicle must be outfitted for the safety of the dog while out on patrol, equipped to keep the dog cool in the vehicle during our hot summers and the safekeeping of the dog when he and the handler are off duty, the expenses are a factor.

We have been fortunate to be able to fund our current dog purchase and training with funds seized as a result of illegal narcotics trafficking. The vehicle already existed because one handler left our agency. So, while the expenses are a factor, we are pleased to say dope money is picking up the $24,000 out of pocket expense listed above.

Once the dog and handler successfully complete their training course we will attempt to introduce them to everyone through the newspapers.

Everyone have a safe week.

Johnny Brown has served as Sheriff of Ellis County since Jan. 1, 2009, and is a graduate of the National Sheriff’s Institute. He has been in law enforcement for 20 years and holds a Master’s Peace Officer’s Certificate with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.