MPD K9 Officer Gets New Equipment
The Marmaduke Police Department's four-legged officer Duke received a bullet-proof, stab-proof vest from the non-profit organization Vested Interest in K-9, whose sole interest is providing vests to smaller police departments who could not otherwise afford vests for their dogs, said K-9 narcotics officer Matt Pruett.
According to www.vik9s.org, each vest can cost up to $1,050 and holds a value of $1,795 to $2,234. Each vest comes with a five-year warranty and exclusively ordered from a U.S. distributor. All vests are manufactured by Armor Express in Central Lake, Mich.
It's important for Duke to have the protective vest, because "the people we encounter are dangerous," Pruett said. "He finds drugs, money and chases people down, which puts him in the position of possibly being harmed." Pruett added there have been threats made toward Duke already, but nothing actually said to the office, "mostly on the internet and I've heard things by word of mouth; a lot of the reason is he's making it hard on people to sell drugs."
MPD first received Duke in 2012. The four-year-old full-blooded German shepherd has become known as a very impressive officer throughout Northeast Arkansas. Duke's reputation as a good police dog has made him a valuable member of not only the MPD, but also the Greene County Sheriff's Office, which uses Duke almost on a daily basis, and the Arkansas State Police, which asks for him when needing a K-9 officer in the area.
"We find things every night," Pruett said. "And he finds things I would never even think of." Duke is trained in criminal apprehension, tracking and narcotics. He is certified in every major drug, including methamphetamine, all cocaine-based drugs, marijuana, K2, Pope and prescription drugs of all kinds.
He also has a wide array of tracking skills from finding lost children to senior citizens' with memory problems who may not even know they're lost, and finding fugitives on the run. As recently as the past month, Duke has been responsible for finding three lost children in Northeast Arkansas.
Pruett said the most impressive tracking experience he's been on with Duke was in Paragould. A fugitive swam through eight mile ditch while the water was up, ran down the bank on the other side and disappeared. It took Pruett and Duke about 30 minutes to reach the location, but a determined Duke followed suit. Even though he could not see the perpetrator he led Pruett up the bank on the other side, across a street and sat down at the door of the apartment the fugitive had hid inside.
One of Duke's most important responsibilities is to support his fellow officer Pruett. "When I'm outside of the car he's watching every move I make," Pruett said. "If I get into trouble I have a button in my hand I can hit and it opens the car door for Duke to come to my aide." Pruett says he has had to do this a few times, but generally a hostile suspect will back down simply at Duke's presence. "When he begins barking and circling most people take a step back," Pruett said.
Duke has gone through rigorous training to become the excellent K-9 officer he is today. As pups, K-9's are chosen for training by their reactions to playing fetch and taking command. Once chosen, they begin extensive training in which a ball is used as the incentive to find the drug or person needed. "People think we feed the dogs drugs to make them look for them, and that's simply not true," Pruett said. "We use the ball in a manner that the dog thinks the smell of the drug is the smell of the ball, so he just wants to play fetch."
Pruett has also applied for a grant for a K-9 medical kit from We Ride to Provide, which is a non-profit organization that provide kits which hold items such as dog aspirators, snakebite kits and wound care products so the officer can take care of the dog until medical attention can be provided.
For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, persons may call 508-824-6978. Tax-deductible donations are accepted via mail to: Vested Interest in K-9s, Inc. P.O. Box 9, East Taunton, MA 02718.