January 14, 2015
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By: Carol Kent
Published: January 13, 2015
To view the story online, visit: http://www.chipleypaper.com/features/extra/top-dogs-k-9-teams-at-the-ready-to-protect-and-serve-1.424245?page=0
HOLMES AND WASHINGTON COUNTIES - With around 74 activations or deployments in 2014, including separate calls that resulted in the local recovery of two escaped inmates and one fugitive, it can be argued that Holmes and Washington County's Department of Corrections K-9 Units are unsung heroes of public safety.
These K-9 teams deploy at a moment’s notice - during holidays, inclement weather, and during all hours - to provide critical assistance to other law enforcement agencies.
Last year, Washington County's Northwest Florida Reception Center's (NWFRC) K-9 Team received 21 calls for assistance from area sheriffs' offices. Of those 21 calls, five were to assist in locating missing children or elderly persons who had wandered away. All missing persons were located safely, thanks to the skills of the unit. NWFRC was called and placed on standby an additional 17 times, bringing their total K-9 activations for 2014 to 38.
A continuous training program is set up for both dogs and staff assigned to the K-9 Teams. The majority of those staff members have attended tactical first aid training, tactical firearms, and quarterly firearms training. Training is conducted in all types of weather conditions, to include, rain, cold, and heat to simulate real-world scenarios…
“I am very proud of each member of our K-9 Team," said Holmes CI Warden Randall Bryant. "The energy, faith, and devotion in which our K-9 team trains and works to ensure the safety of our communities strengthens our department and all who serve in it. Their courage, absolute dedication to duty, attitude that no mission is impossible and a willingness to go to any length to ensure our safety is not simply their career, but their lifestyle."
“Our K-9 team is dedicated to ensuring public safety," agreed NWFRC Warden Donald Leavins. "They place themselves in harm’s way each time they are activated, without hesitation, in order to recapture convicted felons, or assist other law enforcement agencies. We are so proud of them and the service they provide to the community and the Department.”
As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs more than 22,000 members statewide, incarcerates more than 100,000 inmates and supervises nearly 146,000 offenders in the community.