In law enforcement, a good partner is the ultimate teammate: loyal, trustworthy and will always be at your side to protect and defend.
This has been true for as long as officers have been on patrol, regardless of whether that partner has two or four legs.
Hunter, a three-year-old Dutch Shepherd, is just such a partner and he has the contest hardware to prove it.
This K-9 is the partner of Smith County Precinct 5 Deputy Constable Kevin Petty and serves as a detector of contraband and assists in subduing suspects for the constable’s office.
In addition to impressing his fellow officers with his “nose’’ for the job, Hunter also has secured trophies during National Narcotic Detector Dog Association competitions.
Dedicated to the utilization and proficiency of scent detector dogs for the benefit of law enforcement and private industry, NNDDA began in 1978 in Nacogdoches with 12 K-9s from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi and has expanded to 28 states.
Recently, Hunter brought home a sixth place finish – out of approximately 100 K-9s from around the country -- from his latest NNDDA competition held in Amarillo. This was his second 6th place standing and the third overall for the Precinct 5 office.
During NNDDA competitions, K-9s are to find as much contraband as they can – inside boxes, cabinets and even air planes – in a three-minute time span. Each drug has an assigned point value and these are then tallied.
Hunter’s expertise is legally recognized by every court in the United States, Petty said.
OGAR A WINNER AS WELL
The other trophy was won by Hunter’s predecessor Ogar, who was tragically killed in the line of duty in January, 2016 by Michael Koch who shot Ogar while fleeing the scene of an arrest on Interstate 20 and FM 849. (Koch is serving concurrent 40 year terms and is eligible for parole in 2036.)
As hard as it has been for Petty and the constable’s office to deal with Ogar’s death, the deputy understands the realities of the job.
“All of us (law enforcement) know we have a job to do and things like (Ogar’s death) are part of it,’’ Petty said. “You can’t be scared in this line of work.’’
Hunter came to the constable’s office three months after Ogar’s death and literally hit the ground running.
“Ogar had an off switch,’’ Petty said. “After our shift was over, he’d like to be a lap dog. That’s not the case with Hunter. He’s all business.’’
Petty said it’s not uncommon that when he and Hunter’s day is over, the K-9 will patrol the house to make sure everything is safe before retiring.
And much like other officers, Hunter is keenly aware of when it’s time for work.
“There are certain things that get (the K-9s) going,’’ Petty said. “For Hunter, when the lights and the siren go on, he knows it’s game time.’’
In fact, the deputy said, there have been times when Hunter’s mere presence has caused suspects to voluntarily give up their drugs, knowing full well the K-9 will find them.
Petty said Hunter will locate contraband up to four times during a typical work week.
“He certainly makes my job easier,’’ the deputy said.
Precinct 5 Constable Jeff McClenny is certainly appreciative of Petty and his K-9 partner.
“It’s always been the history of this office that we’ve had a very good K-9 officer,’’ McClenny said. “Our constituents know it’s here and it allows us to do more things in our fight against narcotics.’’
No doubt it helps to have an award-winning K-9 as well.