MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Mobile County's Deputy of the Year for 2012 is a K-9 Officer who has seen his share of manhunts and chases involving violent suspects.
Sergeant Jason Arendall recently shared about his dog and partner "Orry", and how the K-9 job puts both of them in harm's way.
Orry is a eastern European bred German Shepherd trained for apprehension and narcotics. Or as Sgt. Arendall said he has a dual purpose - Orry can find dope or bite.
"It's probably one of the most rewarding jobs, I have a dog and he doesn't complain about the radio station and he doesn't mind where we go to eat at so, he's actually the best partner," stated Arendall.
Sgt. Arendall of the Mobile County Sheriff's Office has had good partners in his 16 years of law enforcement. However, when the opportunity came with the sheriff's office for the U.S. Marine veteran and former Mobile police officer to join the K-9 unit, he moved quickly.
"I placed my name on a list and I was given an interview and before I knew it, I had a dog and I was going through a month long course with my partner," remembered Arendall.
Arendall has long known the importance of a relationship with partners on the force and as a Marine.
"You're going to back them up and be there for them if they need you, that transitions pretty easily from military to any police force. The connection between police officers and the way we have to look out for one another, I really like that side of police work. You go out on patrol and when certain sticky situations arise, with these guys you have to depend on them sometimes to back you in deadly and violent situations. So there's definitely a bond that's created," says Arendall.
Arendall had to develop a bond with Orry, his K-9 partner.
"Everybody loves to work with dogs, but when it's your responsibility 40 hours a week, Saturday and Sunday when you're off, to take care of this animal and you're responsible for it, it hits you all at one time. There's a bond obviously that's created, I take him home at night there's a bond created with my family as well. Working day in and day out with your canine partner you start to understand what kind of capabilities they bring to the table and what kind of asset they are. There's no other partner out there that's going to be more loyal or do exactly what you ask them to do like a canine. When there's a violent situation, barricaded individuals, a violent felon or any violent crime they're going to call our canine division immediately. I might have to send him into harms way, that's what these dogs are for, where we don't have to send a human," reflected Arendall.
In February 2012, Sergeant Arendall sent Orry into harm's way as they brought the manhunt for Mobile Police Officer Steven Green's killer to an end.
"The suspect was hiding and barricaded himself up under the residence near Dauphin Island Parkway, there was hardly any visibility at all because of tear gas and broken gas and water pipes. Orry was actually able to locate him and pull him partially out of the crawl space that he was in, so we could identify him. I ended up under the house and that's when I engaged the suspect. A lot of lives were touched that day, someone lost a father, a dad, a son, a husband," shared Arendall.
The K-9 unit has also been a factor in the success of Sheriff Sam Cochran's Meth Text Initiative.
"We go into these, these, you know, drug infested areas and we stop vehicles. We make contact with individuals that have these drug problems. A dog that can locate narcotics is a really good asset to have, to identify the people buying it and the actual enforcement in finding these labs. Just the other day we went out and did several complaints and unfortunately we did get a lab, but it was only one out of about seven complaints. Before the initiative it could be almost four labs found out of four complaints. You can see the success of the Meth Text Initiative," said Arendall.
In May 2013,r Sgt. Arendall, supervisor of the seven-officer, seven-dog K-9 unit was recognized for his work.
"It's one of those things that I'll never forget, as I look back on getting that award, it's a humbling experience to have the department and my peers and the administration recognize me for Deputy of the Year," reflected Sgt. Arendall.
Sergeant Arendall said some of the training seems like play at times, but it's a lot of weekly work that has to be consistent and documented.
The Mobile County Sheriff's Office K-9 unit also supports several different organizations in the county including smaller town police departments and federal law enforcement agencies.
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