The Williamsburg Police Department unveiled its newest member Monday afternoon, and he walks on four legs.
K-9 Rico, a Belgian Malamar, is hitting the streets with his handler, Officer Brandon Prewitt, and is trained as a multi-purpose dog.
In other words, he is trained to track, sniff for drugs, and to attack if someone were running from police or attacking his handler.
Monday afternoon, Public Affairs Officer Shawn Jackson donned a heavily padded safety suit, which cost the department about $1,000, for a demonstration of the dog’s abilities.
Jackson played the bad guy being apprehended by Prewitt, who chose to try and run from police but got only a few feet away.
“He’s very aggressive. I can speak now from experience,” Jackson noted. “The felons that want to run in Williamsburg, we are definitely going to have something for them this go around.
“Trust me, I know first hand that running isn’t going to be something they want to do in Williamsburg anymore due to K-9 Officers Prewitt and Rico.”
Detective Bobby Freeman, who played a bad guy resisting arrest during another scenario Monday afternoon, said that even when you are prepared for the dog to attack, it can still knock you down because it is so powerful.
Prewitt traveled to Arkansas last Tuesday to pick up his newest partner, who he has been training with for nearly a week.
“I think he is doing a great job, he is very obedient,” Prewitt noted.
The department had purchased a prior dog, Caper, which was replaced because it had an inconsistent “bite pattern,” officials said.
The dog was still under warranty so the new dog cost the department no additional money.
Prewitt said the dog has it National Narcotics Detection Association (NNDA) certification, which means it is certified to detect narcotics, such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
“It is also certified in patrol work, such as criminal apprehension, and tracking,” Prewitt said.
For instance, if an Alzheimer’s patient wondered away from his home, the dog could be used to track him down.
“If we have an armed robbery and the suspect is in the woods, then if we get a perimeter set, then I can turn him off leash because he will do an area search,” said Prewitt, who trains with the animal once a week.
Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird said that the only time the dog would be utilized for “bite” work is in the event someone has committed a felony or is attacking an officer.
He said the dog would not be used on suspects wanted for misdemeanor offenses unless they were also attacking an officer.
Rico cost $7,550, which came from money forfeited to the department.
The department has also been given a Labrador Retriever that the state police have agreed to train in narcotics and explosive detection. The animals take about 21 months to train, Bird told the city council last month.
Prewitt will be the handler for both dogs.