Sometimes small town police departments have the biggest hearts, especially when it comes to K9s.
Waskom Police Department’s K9 partnerships, Officer Forrest Mitchell with K9 Harley and Officer Dwayne Longmire with K9 Caesar proved just that at the 2009 National Narcotic Detector Dog Association conference.
|Terri Hahn/News Messenger|
|Officer Dwayne Longmire with K9 Caesar and Officer Forrest Mitchell with K9 Harley took top honors in the teams competition at the 2009 National Narcotic Detector Dog Conference in Corpus Christi.|
“For four dogs from Harrison County to place in the top 50 percent is saying great things about Harrison County K9s,” said Mitchell, who added that two of the dogs placed in the top 20 percent.
The conference was April 20 through April 24 in Corpus Christi and included 160 K9 contestants from 28 states.
Waskom’s two K9s and their human handlers worked together to take first in teams. Harley placed third overall, which earned him the Mike Brown Award for Top Malinois. Caesar placed 33 overall.
“That’s what (Mitchell) said before we went, that more than anything he’d like to bring back a trophy for teams,” said Longmire.
Brown was a legendary Malinois trainer, renowned for his deep rapport and communication with his dogs. The comparison to Brown is a deserved honor for Mitchell, Longmire said.
In their first year to compete at the NNDDA’s annual competition, Harrison County Sheriff’s Deputy Randy Payne and K9 Rusty took 40th place and Deputy Brian Best with K9 Bruce took 72nd overall.
“This was Harrison County’s first year to compete and with young dogs. They will be real contenders next year,” predicted Mitchell.
Officer Mitchell has been at the Waskom Police Department for three years. He owns both dogs and has been working with Harley in narcotics detection for four years.
Mitchell also trained Caesar in narcotics detection while at the Jefferson Police Department, where he worked one year before coming to Waskom.
Harley is a 13-year-old Belgian malinois. This was his third year to compete in the NNDDA narcotics competition placing 104th his first year and 19th last year in Jackson, Miss. “I was thinking about retiring him because of his age, but with the heart he showed in the competition, I’m going to keep him in,” said Mitchell
Officer Longmire, an animal lover like Mitchell, has been working with Caesar for a year since getting to know the 5-year-old German shepherd while renting an apartment near Mitchell.
“This is my first year to compete with Caesar though I have with other dogs while working as a K9 officer in New London,” said Longmire, who has been at WPD since 2007 and has two years of K9 experience from New London Police Department.
Caesar placing 33rd was a major accomplishment for the K9 as he had been three years retired and only trained from January to April before the competition.
“We practice a little bit and he worked vehicles well. Even with the distractions of the highway, he went back to work like he had last stepped out of the car yesterday,” said Longmire.
Both men took the time to honor their own dog training mentors. Longmire credited his K9 knowledge to David Dockins and Scott McCally who taught him how to train and bond.
“Placing so well also says great things about Forrest and his work with in Jefferson for Caesar to place so well,” said Longmire.
Mitchell credited Karen Bush and Norm Gardener of Blanchard, La., who showed him how to train dogs and also gave Harley to him four years ago.
“Harley’s success has progressed over the years and he has matured a lot in the competitions,” said Mitchell. “Having a good dog in your department and trusting him is a big benefit to the department.”
Anyone who would like to see Mitchell, Longmire, Harley and Caesar in action can attend a K9 demonstration during a Drug Awareness Program at 3:30 p.m. on May 28 at New Hope Apartments in Waskom.
About 300 dogs and their handlers attended the 2009 NNDDA Conference though not all competed in the narcotics competition. Next year’s competition will be in Bossier City, La. For more information about the NNDDA visit http://www.nndda.org.