It’s probably difficult for a police chief with decades of experience in law enforcement, working in many capacities and helming departments to experience a first.
But Seguin Police Chief Terry Nichols on Thursday was able to cross one thing off his bucket list at the Leroy Schneider Police Station in Seguin. He swore in his first canine officer, Mike, who is new to the city and the department.
After reading the officers’ oath of office to Mike, Nichols thanked the people gathered around him for bringing the dog to SPD.
“Before we break, I’d just like to stress that this would not have been possible without the community,” Nichols said. “Again, this was $6,000 we had not budgeted this year.”
Mike takes his place on the force as SPD’s second police dog on duty with hopes of one day adding a third, Nichols said. The new K9 takes the place of Knox, a police dog the department retired due to health reasons around the end of 2018.
Mike, a 2-year-old Belgian Shepherd born in the Czech Republic, officially began his service with SPD Thursday after training at Worldwide K9 in Boerne. He will be patrolling the streets with one thing on his mind: stopping narcotics trafficking.
“Mike is a single purpose narcotics dog trained to detect marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and derivatives of these drugs,” according to a news statement from the offices of the Seguin Police Department.
Mike is partnered with his handler Officer Justin Mendoza. They have a counterpart team on the force made up of K9 Cooper and Cooper’s handler Officer Clayton Deagen.
The dogs teamed up with their handlers can be powerful tools in helping ensure the streets of Seguin stay clean, Nichols said.
“These dedicated K-9s are part of our police family,” he said. “We are proud to have K-9 Mike join the Seguin Police Department team and serve our community by helping remove illegal narcotics from the street.”
Acquisition and training of the dogs costs about $6,000 per animal, Nichols said. When Knox unexpectedly left the force, the department quickly knew it wanted to fill his position but had no funds to do so.
That’s where the community intervened, Nichols said.
Shortly after he took over as chief in April, Nichols and other members of the department began to stress the need for a replacement for Knox, he said. Within just a few weeks, groups came together to help, Nichols said.
They raised the money needed to get the dog, he said.
When she saw Cooper, the department’s other current K9 at a community event, she knew she and her company had to help get more adorable, obedient, helpful animals working with the department, said Xiomara Milla, co-manager of the local Walmart.
She went to her co-manager, Marcella Binkley, raving about the dog and trying to come up with a way to help, Milla said.
“I met Cooper and fell in love with Cooper and then I went to her,” she said.
Binkley said Milla met Cooper at Badges, Bikes and Tykes, one of the police department’s annual community events. Other store personnel saw the dog and also wanted to get involved, Binkley said.
They talked about it at the store and came up with the idea of using the Walmart Foundation grant funding to pitch in with whatever the police department needed.
Binkley said she spoke with Seguin Police Department’s crime prevention Officer Tanya Brown, learned how the foundation could help and took it from there.
“The police wrote the grant. We have the Walmart Foundation,” Binkley said. “With the funds we were allowed to get, we approved it.”
Walmart donated $2,000 toward the police department’s fund for Mike.
Pitching in $3,000 for the dog was the Seguin Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association. The SCPAAA provides all sorts of help with fundraising for non-budgeted expenses the department needs, Vice President Steven Berger said.
“We do a lot of fundraising for the K9 program mostly, but also the department,” he said. “We just listen to what they’re needing and try to strive for what they need, but what’s not budgeted.”
Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony was also used as a way to thank the organizations and businesses that donated money to help pay for the department to acquire and train the new officer. Those organizations include the SCPAAA, Guadalupe County Crime Stoppers, the Seguin Sunrise Lions Club, the Cattlemen’s Association, the Seguin Noon Lions Club and the local Walmart store.