The Mesquite Police Department K9 Unit was activated in May 2017 with two certified German-Dutch Shepherds, Axel and Cosmo. Since the unit opened, they have contributed to 1,107 deployments and 317 arrests.
In 2017, the Mesquite PD was connected with the K9 unit in Allen before they decided to reopen the unit. They traveled to California to select two canines for selective testing. This consisted of making sure the dogs were even tempered, were good environmentally and had a good defense.
Axel and Cosmo are both dual purpose trained, meaning they are used to track and patrol.
“We’ve had great support from our department because we haven’t had dogs in 20 years. Most people argue that the canine unit carries more potential liability than the SWAT team does,” Police Sgt. B. Meyer said. “We’ve been blessed that our agency and chief have been supportive and have given us resources. There was skepticism in the beginning especially with some of the officers who have been here a long time and were there for the previous canine team, but these guys have been impressive.”
Both dogs started in May 2017 after being vetted and went through eight intense weeks of training, which is half the time of a regular police academy. Since then, they’ve had 3,085 training hours, about 35-40 hours per month. The dogs’ main priority is to locate, whether it’s narcotics, people or bombs. They are also certified to assist patrol perimeters, article searches, tracking, building searches among others.
“A lot of the credit and why we succeed so much is because we’re allowed to train because the department knows how much of an asset we can be to our departments and guys on the street,” Officer Jeremy Wilemon said. “It wasn't just an overnight process. It's really come a long way, and we’ve been able to catch a lot of people and it's just because the accreditation has to do with the great patrol work mixed with our dogs who do a great job.”
Each week, Mesquite PD has a designated meeting with Garland PD’s K9 unit to discuss training methods to make improvements to situations that happened in the prior week. These sessions better help the handlers and the dogs for future deployments. During these training times, the police department has police decoys, officers assist and create practice tracks for the dogs to train.
“We have about six right now who assist us in all our training on Wednesdays. They lay practice tracks for us. They go through a decoy school to get trained on how to help our dogs and study dog behavior that way they can work with our dogs to make them better and comfortable,” Wilemon said. “If it wasn't for them, our training nights would be tough. We would have to swap out and do it. It helps a lot with our decoys.”
The unit has continued to serve the department on various cases and helped track and surrender suspects to the officers.
“At the end of the day, I'm a firm believer that they keep us safe and they might even save our life one time. They’re the tip of the spear,” Crawford said. “Because we have another use of force that is non lethal, we can apprehend someone without having to use a larger use of force, and it's about the dog being there that is the force.”