K-9 officer ‘ready to work’ in Spring Hope

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After less than a month on the police force, Spring Hope’s newest officer is already making an impact in the community.

K-9 Jax, a 14-month old German shepherd imported from Hungary, along with his handler, Officer Durwood Radford II, completed a 240-hour canine handler course at Southern Police Canine in Momeyer on Nov. 9 and immediately went to work.

“Once we graduated, we were on patrol that night,” Radford said. “He loves to work. He’s always dying to get out of the car to do something.”

Dogs prove to be beneficial in police work because of their keen sense of smell, which is about 40-50 times greater than a human’s. Dogs also are able to differentiate between smells.

“A dog is better than any machine in detecting odors,” said Spring Hope Police Chief Anthony Puckett.

Jax has been trained in multiple areas, including locating narcotics, locating people on a track or suspects in a building or open area, locating evidence and assisting in apprehending fleeing violent individuals.

“It’s amazing what the dog can do and how quickly he can do it, compared to being a patrol officer before doing the same thing,” Radford said.

“Dogs can often be used as a search tool to assist officers in saving time, manpower and reducing the risk of harm to officers,” the police department explained in a statement.

Although Radford takes Jax home with him in the evenings, he and his family are careful to not treat him as a pet.

“He definitely knows the difference between work and play. When he’s at work, he’s ready to work,” Radford said. “I let him be a dog when he’s at home, but he still listens to me. He understands that I’m in control regardless. (My family) might say something to him or help me train, but they don’t mess with him like a pet.”

Still, Radford’s affinity for the dog is evident, even taking time and care into naming him.

“This is something I always wanted,” Radford said. “I had my coworkers and family come up with some names for him, and my girlfriend came up with Jax. When I laid eyes on him, he looked like a Jax. It fit him perfect.”

Jax recently took part in Career Day at Middlesex Elementary School, where he performed six demonstrations for the children.

“I was curious to know how it was going to go with kids in there who were just as pumped up and excited as he is,” Radford said. “We showed the kids how he finds narcotics, and he did very good on it.”

“It’s important to do things like that so kids know when they grow up, that we’re here to help them,” Puckett said.