BY DEBBIE PAGE
Troutman Police Officer James “Rico” Scott and his furry partner Jackpot, who is also known around the station as “J.P.,” earned their official K-9 certifications on October 7 and were on the job the next day to protect the citizens of Troutman.
Scott joined the TPD about a year ago and in March interviewed to become a K-9 handler. The pair have since have undergone hundreds of hours of extensive training to reach this milestone.
Jackpot, a German shepherd, earned his credentials in obedience, article search, aggression, tracking, and narcotics after performing satisfactorily in a three-day evaluation from a master trainer of The United Police Work Dog Association (UPWDA).
Each certification is good for one year, and the team must complete a minimum of 16 hours of training each month to maintain the certification.
Chief Tina Fleming said Scott will “train two days per month to make sure the dog is continuously obeying and keeping up with his skills.”
Fleming was pleased to receive a call from the master trainer about Scott and J.P.’s performance on the tests.
“He was bragging on what an excellent job that J.P. did. He had seen him grow and improve as a K-9 as well as Officer Scott as a handler.”
J.P initially worked with Officer Josh McCoy and then with Darin Bumgarner, a certified K-9 handler, for a brief transition before being paired with Officer Scott. “J.P had some work to do — some improvement — and he’s grown leaps and bounds” with Scott, the chief added.
“Some of the officers who had seen J.P. in the beginning said he has improved so much. He’s a totally different dog since the first time he came out. That’s how hard Officer Scott has worked with J.P. They are a team, and they have to be certified together.”
“They have bonded. I expect great things and a lot of work out of them,” said Fleming.
Scott takes Jackpot, who is 2½ years old, to schools to visit. “The kids love him. They say hey to him, and we do presentations.” The pair recently performed their skills for the MCJROTC at South Iredell High School.
Once he has more experience, Scott aspires to earn his Master Trainer certification.
In their off time, Jackpot enjoys hanging out with Scott and his family. His kids, including 10- and 7 year-old sons and a 1-year-old daughter, love interacting with him. “He’s a great dog,” added Scott.
Jackpot enjoys walks, toys, and chilling, but when he sees Scott put on his uniform and equipment, his demeanor changes and he’s ready to work.
UPWDA CERTIFICATIONSThe narcotic certification tests the team’s ability and reliability to detect narcotic odors (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine) in three test phases: vehicle, building or container boxes or luggage.
To earn their tracking credentials, the pair had to follow disturbed vegetation (vegetative breakdown), along with other ground laden odors on a step-by-step path. In trailing, they had to follow human scent (skin rafts) that have fallen to the ground, according to the wind conditions.
To achieve aggression certification, the trainer’s control of the K-9 is tested during a false start, leashed aggression towards a standing man, and a recall from a pursuit. Four phases of deployment from motor vehicle, including personal protection, deploy and hold the suspect, alert during pat down of suspect, and performance under gunfire conditions are also evaluated.
This article search test determines the team’s ability to find an unknown object in an open area. The canine must alert to human scent on the hidden articles (such as credit cards, driver’s licenses, keys, wallets, glasses, cell phones, matchbooks, paper ID cards) and find three items tossed into a 60-foot-by-60-foot field.
The obedience test measures the police service dog’s ability and proficiency in performing off-lead obedience exercises as well as the handler’s total control of the canine. The dog’s heeling
walking, and distance obedience skills are evaluated, as well as its reaction to gunfire.