PROVO, UT (NEWS4UTAH) The Provo Police Department's newest K9 is so new to the force - he hasn't even started training. He is so new on the job - he doesn't even have an official name. In this week's Behind the Badge report - we meet the nameless dog, his partner Officer Casey Hughes and we learn about the process to become a K9 Officer.
"We're both new - the dog is new to it - I'm new to it. So going to be a learning experience for both of us. Officer Casey Hughes as been with Provo Police for two and half years. His new partner - has been on the force for just three weeks. Right now they are just getting to know each other. "We play a lot we ride together in the car - 10-hour shifts - four days a week so we spend a lot of time together." The 16-month-old Belgian Malinois - Shepherd mix and Officer Hughes will be taking over for Officer Scott Nielsen and K9 Loki - who passed away in mid-December. "We have big shoes to fill for the K9 we are replacing and the handler we are replacing."
To get ready they will do some intense training like this. "We start narcotics detection school next week." That part of the training lasts eight weeks. "Narcotics school is all about play - finding his toy - getting his reward." Then it is on to patrol school for another two months like this. "Which is all the stuff you see with bite sleeves - dog searching for people now - not just drugs or toys. Commands as far as staying, sitting, laying, searching." Officer Hughes knew he was going into law enforcement for a long time. "It was always something I wanted to do... It was just a matter of where and when."
And he says getting to work in K9 is a dream come true. "Being a police officer I had two goals. To be on the SWAT Team and the K9 - which fortunately with him we get to do both now."
Officer Hughes also talked about why he loves to serve and protect: "The most satisfactory part of the job is being able to be a help in someone's life. A lot of times we focus on taking people to jail and stuff like that, but there are a lot of experiences where we get to console somebody who has lost a loved one or we get to help somebody who is going through a hard time in their life. Whether it's financial, family or mental health - we get to deal with everything. And to be a positive influence in those lives is the best part of the job for me."
Now to the naming of the K9. Provo Police have narrowed it down to two names they like. Drax and Odin. You can vote for one of those names on the Provo Police Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/provopd/
And to see all of our Behind the Badge stories and to nominate an officer for a future story go to: http://www.good4utah.com/badge
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