By JOHN LEE
MADISON — Investigator Chris Picou couldn’t praise his K9 officers Splinter and Roscoe enough for their outstanding performance during the United States Police Canine Association Region 26 Regional Testing and Certification last week.
“These dogs are pretty cool,” Picou of the Madison Police Department said. “I have seen all the dogs progress and I knew this would be a special group. I am proud not only of my dogs, Splinter and Roscoe, but of all the dogs involved. They far exceeded our expectations.”
Along with Picou’s K9s, MPD’s K9 unit dominated the competition in the certification tests, which were held at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg from March 28 to April 2.
K9s from MPD, the Madison County Sheriff’s Department and the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department also participated.
The tests consisted of more than 34 teams. K9s and their handlers participated in categories such as narcotics detection, explosives detection, obedience, agility, evidence search, suspect search and criminal apprehension.
Picou joined the MPD about a year ago and is also a supervisor with the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department.
His K9s, Splinter (11 years old and a drug dog) and Roscoe (7 years old and a patrol dog), were imported from Europe and happen to have the same father, also named Roscoe.
Picou, Roscoe, and Splinter took home several first-place victories, including Narcotics Vehicle Search, Team Narcotics, General Narcotics, Evidence Search, Criminal Apprehension, Team Patrol, and General Patrol.
“Every year as K9 officers we need to be certified and we go through the United States K9 Association in Abbeville, Louisiana to do that,” Picou said. “I have been going through this annually for quite some time. It involves getting up early and working with the dogs, and all that training paid off.”
Police Chief Gene Waldrop said he is very proud of all the officers involved and their dedication to their furry friends.
“These are some dedicated officers,” Waldrop said. “These guys work with the dogs all the time, and the dogs live with them and are like family members. They put a lot of time and dedication into being the best they can be with the K9s, and they put a lot of effort into this recertification.”
Investigator Lee Sanders has been with the MPD for three years and earned his K9 Ira in August 2020 from the United States K9 Association.
Ira, a dual-purpose K9 who specializes in narcotics detection and scent tracking, won several first and second place awards during certification. These awards included “Top Dog” award (combined score from Patrol and Narcotics tests), 1st place in Suspect Search and Team Patrol, 2nd place in Narcotics Vehicle Search, Narcotics Room Search, Team Narcotics and Narcotics in general, and third place in General Patrol.
“It was a lot of hard work and dedication over the last few months to prepare for the trials, but it paid off for me and the Rankin County groups,” Sanders said. “We have the luxury of being surrounded by expert dog handlers and we also have the help of Steve Henderson.”
Sanders said the best part of the experience was the reward of seeing his hard work pay off.
“Just having Ira for a year and a half and still being able to do what we did is very rewarding,” Sanders said.
Other officers who took home awards with their K9s include investigator Ricky Cross and his K9 Ersa with the Top Rookie Dog Patrol award, first place in Team Patrol and third place in Search of Suspects, and investigator Karlin Givens and his K9 Dalton with the Top Rookie Dog Patrol award. Dog Narcotics Award and first place in Team Narcotics.
MPD thanked Steve Henderson of Checkmate K9 for his expertise and guidance in preparing handlers for regional tryouts, Roger Abshire and USK9 Unlimited for importing and training K9s, Chris Haley and the Madison County Sports Zone for allowing the use of their facilities, and to Sheriff Bryan Bailey and the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department for allowing the use of their facilities in preparation for trials.