The West Jefferson Police K-9 officer named Arc is coming up on two years of service for the village, and other local law enforcement.
West Jefferson Police Sgt. Brandon Smith is the man in charge of Arc.
“We come as a team,” Smith said. “Nobody else can handle Arc other than me.”
Arc was originally purchased in 2012 as a means for fighting a drug epidemic that was beginning to spiral out of control. Though K-9 Units are uncommon in village police departments, Smith said the costs of about $500 per year are well worth it.
“The uses are more than we ever expected,” he said.
The Czechoslovakian German Shepherd was born in Germany, where he passed the Schutzhund test. Schutzhund is a sport to train German Shepherds to work properly and efficiently.
The dog was trained in narcotic detection upon arriving in the states. He began his career in law enforcement in West Jefferson in July 2012.
Smith said the department was immediately impressed with Arc’s abilities.
“We had a huge start with him once he got here,” Smith said. “The uses are more than we ever expected.”
Since his arrival, Arc assisted in cases not only for the village, but also other local and federal entities. Arc has participated in 73 K-9-related field deployments so far in service, according to numbers from the West Jefferson Police Department (WJPD).
Arc is frequently used by the Madison County Major Crimes Unit, formally known as the Drug Task Force. For instance, his skills were utilized in May of 2014, when he detected cocaine and other drugs belonging to Michael Garrett. A firearm was also discovered on the property.
Garrett was sentenced to five years in prison in Madison County Common Pleas Court.
Arc has also been used in multiple federal cases, assisting the Drug Enforcement Administration. WJPD benefits from such usage if a large sum of money is seized, often receiving about 25 percent of what was picked up to go toward the dog’s expenses.
Aside from the world of drug raids and searches, Arc has become something of a mascot for the WJPD. The dog has appeared at several village and school functions in the past few years. Smith said kids were in adoration of the dog’s gentle nature at a Girl Scout event Tuesday.
“It’s amazing to see that interaction,” Smith said.
“Arc’s gentle nature defies the myth that police dogs are aggressive and mean,” Smith added.
“(Arc is) the furthest thing from what they may have seen on TV.”
Brandon Semler can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1615 or via Twitter @BrandonSemler.