New­est po­lice re­cruit: Four feet, great nose

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - FRONT PAGE - AN­NETTE BEARD

Not yet 2 years of age and he’s al­ready been suc­cess­ful on the job.

Napo, a 15-month-old Bel­gian Mali­nois male, has re­cently joined the ranks of the Pea Ridge Po­lice Depart­ment and within a week of be­ing on the job, had sniffed out 4 grams of mar­i­juana in a ve­hi­cle on a traf­fic stop, ac­cord­ing to Po­lice Chief Ryan Walker.

Po­lice Of­fi­cer John Hicks is Napo’s han­dler and full-time com­pan­ion. Hicks, the son of Mil­dred Hicks, is a 1992 grad­u­ate of Pea Ridge High School, and said he wants to serve his com­mu­nity.

“I want to make a dif­fer­ence in my com­mu­nity,” Hicks said.

Napo is a cer­ti­fied dual pur­pose dog trained for both pa­trol and drugs. He has three months of K9 class and two ad­di­tional weeks work­ing with the han­dler and state cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Walker said Napo will “aid in the de­tec­tion of il­le­gal drugs, track­ing of miss­ing/en­dan­gered per­sons and, when needed, pro­vide as­sis­tance in the ap­pre­hen­sion of com­bat­ive or oth­er­wise po­ten­tially danger­ous fugi­tives (crim­i­nals).”

“He is a tool for po­lice of­fi­cers to use,” Walker said, “for tac­ti­cal de­tain­ment. He is a dif­fer­ent level of force like taser, pep­per spray.”

Hicks, who has been a dog han­dler for the Low­ell Po­lice Depart­ment, said Napo will be with him all the time. He is at­ten­tive to Hicks, who has a ca­nine unit in­serted in his pa­trol car to pro­vide a safe en­vi­ron­ment for

Napo. One of the new po­lice cars ex­pected to be re­ceived later this month will be out­fit­ted with a ca­nine unit that in­cludes what’s re­ferred to as a “hot dog unit” that pro­vides a ther­mome­ter, fan and other ameni­ties that will pro­vide for cool­ing of the ve­hi­cle when nec­es­sary for Napo’s well be­ing.

He said there was no cost to the tax­pay­ers of Pea Ridge and no city funds were used in his pur­chase nor will be in his up­keep. The dog, which cost $10,000, was paid for by do­na­tions from the Pea Ridge Ve­teri­nary Clinic, Webb Floor­ing, Bethel Heights Po­lice Depart­ment K9, Bella Vista FOP, Ben­ton County Prose­cut­ing At­tor­ney’s Of­fice as well as by other smaller do­na­tions, Walker said, adding that “the re­main­ing amounts were paid by us­ing money we had saved in our city and county drug funds.

“The Pea Ridge Vet has agreed to do­nate high qual­ity food for the dog, and has also pro­vided free med­i­cal train­ing to Of­fi­cer Hicks and pro­vided free emer­gency med­i­cal equip­ment,” Walker said.

Walker said the dog has a two-year life and per­for­mance war­ranty.

Napo will be used at var­i­ous Pea Ridge events and Walker said the depart­ment will abide by all mu­tual aid agree­ments cur­rently in place with other cities just as if they asked for a hu­man of­fi­cer to as­sist while the of­fi­cer is on duty.

“Our town will come first,” Walker said, ex­plain­ing that the dog will only be avail­able to as­sist on a mu­tual aid re­quest “if we have enough of­fi­cers to cover (un­less high pos­si­bil­ity for loss of life), just like we did for mu­tual aid re­quests prior to hav­ing the dog.”

TIMES pho­to­graph by An­nette Beard

Napo plays close at­ten­tion to his han­dler, Po­lice Of­fi­cer John Hicks of the Pea Ridge Po­lice Depart­ment.

TIMES pho­to­graph by An­nette Beard

Napo, a 15-month-old Bel­gian Mali­nois, is the new­est mem­ber of the Pea Ridge Po­lice Depart­ment.

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