DEPUTY SNIFFS OUT CRIME

York-Po­qu­o­son Sher­iff’s Of­fice’s new K-9 of­fi­cer is their first since 2000

Daily Press - - Front Page - By Matt Jones Staff writer

Deputy Brett Shultz pulled out a small pocket knife and tossed it high into the air. It landed about 30 feet away, deep in grass.

He said a com­mand in Ger­man to his ca­nine part­ner, who im­me­di­ately started track­ing the faint hu­man scent left be­hind on the knife. The dog pulled Shultz over to where the knife had landed within a few sec­onds and laid down with it be­tween his front paws.

“He’s got a lot of drive, and he just wants to work. You can’t ask for bet­ter,” Schultz said.

Saber, a 1 ½-year-old Ger­man shep­herd born in Cze­choslo­vakia, is the York-Po­qu­o­son Sher­iff’s Of­fice’s new K-9 of­fi­cer.

He’s a mul­ti­pur­pose po­lice dog, trained in track­ing and nar­cotics de­tec­tion. He’s also the first K-9 the sher­iff’s of­fice has had since 2000.

Ac­cord­ing to Capt. David Barke, who leads the pa­trol divi­sion, deputies have had to rely on nearby agen­cies for help when they needed a dog for track­ing, un­til now.

“Now, it was just time to get our own dog. That way we wouldn’t be a bur­den on (other agen­cies) and maybe help them in the fu­ture, you know, when they need dogs,” Barke said.

Schultz and Barke trav­eled to Tarheel Ca­nine Train­ing in San­ford, N.C., last May to find a dog, nar­row­ing their choices down to two after watch­ing all the avail­able dogs give demos, track­ing down their toys.

They de­cided on Saber par­tially be­cause of his breed. They knew that they wanted a dog with good track­ing abil­i­ties that could sniff out sus­pects and miss­ing peo­ple. Ger­man shep­herds like Saber can sniff out a hu­man scent quickly, although they can’t al­ways dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween in­di­vid­u­als like a blood­hound might, Barke said.

But they can be eas­ily trained to do more than track­ing, un­like a blood­hound. Saber is trained in de­tect­ing nar­cotics. He also had the right per­son­al­ity.

“When we were down there,

some of the dogs were really ag­gres­sive. Some were really pas­sive,” Barke said. “He just seemed to have the right tem­per­a­ment, right down the mid­dle, that we were look­ing for.”

Saber, the name that Schultz picked out for his new part­ner, spent the next five months at Tarheel Ca­nine learn­ing the ba­sics of po­lice work.

In Novem­ber, Schultz trav­eled back to San­ford. He spent four weeks liv­ing with Saber in a ho­tel room and train­ing with him for hours each day along­side an­other han­dler from an­other agency who was get­ting ac­quainted with their dog.

Schultz grew up with dogs and has other pets, but train­ing with a po­lice dog was a new ex­pe­ri­ence that he said taught him a lot.

While they were liv­ing to­gether in the ho­tel, Saber would some­times jump up on the counter while Schultz was brush­ing his teeth. But Schultz didn’t want to yell at him for that so he wouldn’t hes­i­tate to get on coun­ters while on the job.

“It’s not a bad thing for him to do that, so you’ve got you to be wary of what you dis­ci­pline and the cor­rect way,” Schultz said.

There were other prepa­ra­tions to be made, too, in­clud­ing a new car for Schultz with a heat alarm to pro­tect Saber in the sum­mer and a re­mote that al­lows Schultz to let Saber out while away from the car.

Saber hit the streets on Dec. 4. Since then, Schultz said, they’ve re­sponded to drug calls and helped track sus­pects.

The sher­iff’s of­fice hopes to bring Saber out to more com­mu­nity events more as the year goes on. Saber’s train­ing is con­tin­u­ing; Schultz does some kind of ex­er­cise with him ev­ery day, some­times join­ing other lo­cal po­lice dogs.

They re­cently prac­ticed stay­ing calm around gun­fire, and Saber did very well, Schultz said.

Over­all, he has been im­pressed with Saber’s quiet de­meanor and ded­i­ca­tion to his job.

“When it’s time to go to work and I walk out in the uni­form and we go out­side, he heads straight for that door on that side of the truck,” Schultz said.

JOHN SUDBRINK/STAFF

York County Deputy and K-9 han­dler Brett Schultz and his K-9, Saber, of the York-Po­qu­o­son County Sher­iff’s Of­fice work in a sim­u­lated drill in York County on Wednes­day.

JOHN SUDBRINK/STAFF

York-Po­qu­o­son County Sher­iff ’s of­fice K-9, Saber, works the arm bite in a sim­u­lated drill at the York-Po­qu­o­son County Sher­iffs Of­fice in York County.

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