The Benton Police Department is proud to announce a couple of additions to the department’s K-9 unit – Rocko and Sam. The department now has three K-9 dogs.
Rocko is an 18-month-old Belgian Malinois, who was transferred from Guadalajara, Mexico and was trained by the Little Rock K-9 Academy with his handler Officer Andrew Stovall. Rocko and Officer Stovall are certified through the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training in narcotics detection and police patrol operations, which consists of handler protection, suspect apprehension, building and area searches, and tracking. Officer Stovall and Rocko are currently assigned to the patrol division and the Benton Interstate Criminal Enforcement Patrol (BICEP) team.
Sam is a 22-month-old Belgian Malinois, who was also transferred from Guadalajara, Mexico and was trained by the Little Rock K-9 Academy with his handler Lt. Brian Bigelow. Sam and Lt. Bigelow are certified through the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training in narcotics detection. Both are expected to complete training and certify in police patrol operations in the near future. Sam and Lt. Bigelow are currently assigned to the patrol division and the BICEP team.
Costs, including training, for Rocko, Sam and their handlers, was funded from the Federal Drug Asset Seized Fund at no cost to taxpayers. Rocko and Sam join with the third K-9 Unit Duco and Detective Kyle Ellison. Duco, also a Belgian Malinois, is certified in narcotics detection and patrol operations. The training for Duco and Det. Ellison was funded from the Federal Drug Asset Seized Fund. Duco and Det. Ellison both trained at the Little Rock K-9 Academy.
Tony Smith with Little Rock K-9 Academy said that the K-9s are first trained solo and later assigned a handler. He said the handler also attends a class to learn how to work with the K-9. Smith said the handler learns the “legality of when you can and cannot utilize the dog, all the fourth amendment implications for the narcotic searches and how that works, and then the fourth amendment implications for patrol searches or suspect apprehensions, along with handler protection.”
“Their nose is what makes them such a valuable tool for us,” Smith said. “The dogs in the training program, they were bred and raised for this purpose, so they don’t get that bond until they make it with the handler, and then they spend every day, all day at work and home together. So that’s really when the bond develops with them.”
Both Officer Stovall and Lt. Bigelow have prior experience as K-9 handlers. Officer Stovall previously handled K-9 Ares, who served from March 2014 to August 2016. Lt. Bigelow previously handled K-9 Lucky, who served from January 2008 to March 2014.
For more information about the Little Rock K-9 Academy, visit www.lrk9.com.