A nose for police work; Southlake officer is training his new partner

THE FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM (SOUTHLAKE) -- K-9 officer Corp. Gaylon Music and his partner Recon speak the same language: German.Suspects unable to sprechen sie Deutsch cannot give counter commands to confuse his dog, Music said."That way a suspect cannot say 'No, stop,' to him," Music said. The two are members of the city's three-officer unit that started in 1992. The department recently lost one of its founding members. Dune, 16 years old, was put to sleep because of poor health.The Belgian malinois became the city's first K-9 officer in 1992 and retired in 1995 when he was no longer able to serve. Corp. Ron Wyrick handled Dune and he is now training his newest partner, Gaman, also a malinois and Recon's sibling."I worked with him for two or three years then I gave him a good home with the former chief of police Billy Campbell," said Wyrick, who started the city's K-9 unit.Wyrick, a Vietnam veteran, said he chose the breed for its high energy level. "They're like a spring. You just wind them up, and they keep on going," he said.Wyrick's fascination with service dogs began while he was a sergeant in Vietnam when he saw how they were used to detect land mines and bombs, he said. "I've been messing with dogs for about 20 years," he said.The police dogs are used to sniff out drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines and methamphetamines. They also search in buildings and elsewhere for suspects on the lam."If we go into a building that doesn't necessarily mean he will bite the suspect," Music said. "His barks are sometimes just as good without having to bite to bring in a suspect."The dogs are initially trained for about 30-40 hours. The unit officers drill the dogs every third day for several hours. The officers also will spend their own time running through exercises. But, the dogs are not trained to perform search and rescue operations."They are not blood hounds that will run through the woods and pick up a scent and go," said Robert Finn, department spokesman. "They are used to take down a subject or remove them from a car."Music, a Southlake officer since 1996, said he always wanted to serve in the K-9 unit. Officers volunteer for such duty and spend several hours in training. The officers not only work with their animals, they also take them home each night."These officers have to be somebody that loves dogs and can work with them," Finn said.After approval from the City Council the new canine officers will be officially sworn-in members of the department, Finn said. This year's budget for the K-9 unit is $9,465 which includes equipment and medical expenses for the animals."The K-9 cops become sworn officers after approval and they are not looked upon any differently than regular sworn officers," Finn said. "We expect to get council approval hopefully very shortly."

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