Pikeville Police Department Adds K-9 to Staff

Pikeville Police Department Adds K-9 to Staff

PIKEVILLE — The newest member of the Pikeville Police Department is roughly 18 months old, he rarely turns down a chance to play and he prefers to be given instructions in Dutch. 

Narco, a Shepard originally born in Hungary, is a recent addition to the Pikeville Police Department, who has brought a sense of excitement to the community, while forming an inseparable bond with young officer Frederick Smith. 

Adding Narco to the Pikeville Police Department was the fulfillment of Chief Rodney Jarman’s goal, which was made possible through a grant from AKC Reunite and support from the Town of Pikeville and the Board of Commissioners. 

“I took over as interim Police Chief, and then I was made the permanent Chief in June of 2022,” said Chief Jarman. “It was one of the department goals that was high up on my list as far as priorities. We worked on a grant through AKC Reunite, used some other resources, and got some money approved in the budget to buy a K-9 patrol vehicle.”

A native of Wayne County, Smith, 21, has known since his junior year of high school he wanted to eventually pursue a career in law enforcement. 

“I couldn’t pursue law enforcement right out of high school, and I had to wait a couple of years,” Smith said. “Driving while impaired has always been an important issue to me. It’s never affected me personally, but it’s always been something I feel strongly about. That’s something I took a liking to was getting out and finding DWI’s, and that’s probably the biggest reason I got into (law enforcement). I feel like whenever you get an impaired driver off the road, you possibly saved a life, because you don’t know what’s going to happen a mile down the road.”

Smith attended an eight-week training through eastcoastcanineinc.com to become a K-9 handler in late January of this year through March. The class was taught in Rocky Mount and offered through Edgecombe Community College. 

It was at this class where Smith met Narco during the first week, and those eight weeks proved to be critical in their process of becoming acclimated with one another, and building trust that is the critical foundation of any relationship between an officer and his K-9. 

“It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had,” Smith said. “It was amazing. It was frustrating at times, especially having an (inexperienced) dog that was already over a year old and didn’t know anything, but he was very easy to train and very easy to get along with. He’s the easiest dog I’ve ever trained, I’ve trained personal dogs, hunting dogs, and just basic obedience with my dogs, but he is by far the easiest. He’s a happy dog, he loves to work and he loves to play.”

While Smith enjoyed his time at K-9 school, he admitted with a smile that he was initially hesitant to attend. With an encouraging nudge from a friend during law enforcement training, Smith agreed to step out of his comfort zone and try something new. 

“I got into law enforcement, and one of my buddies I graduated with, he wanted to do it, and I told him he could have it,” Smith joked. “I didn’t want a (K-9), that’s a lot of responsibility and liability. I eventually got asked to do it, and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s made a job that I love even better. By the second week of K-9 school, I was having so much fun. I love having a dog and watching him work, and watching the other dogs around me as well.”

Forming a deep connection with Narco naturally took time for Smith, and it wasn’t until the final few weeks of the class that the young officer noticed a difference in his relationship with the K-9. Building trust was just as much about Narco’s confidence in Smith, as it was about Smith’s trust in Narco. 

“I don’t think a strong bond really started to click until the sixth or seventh week of class,” Smith said. “I could really just see a difference in the way he looked at me and the way he was playing with me as well. I didn’t quite know how to work with him. As a K-9 team, it’s 50/50, so I have to know (Narco) just as much as he knows me. It was a little difficult for me to get into it. About the sixth or seventh week, it just clicked.”

The roughly two months that Smith and Narco have been on patrol together has served as an opportunity for Smith to learn on the job, while also feeling somewhat like a proud parent as Narco achieves certain K-9 milestones for the first time. 

“The first time he hit on a vehicle I was jumping up and down,” Smith said. “He hit on so many vehicles in training, but that first I saw him do it on the street, I was jumping up and down. You wouldn’t have thought I was a police officer, just because of the way I was acting. We went and cleared a house in Fremont, some juveniles had gone into it and some neighbors called it in. We went and cleared out the house, and this was the first time we cleared out a building with him. Every single command I gave him he was right on it. It was amazing.”

Smith and Narco aren’t only co-workers, but they’re also roommates, as Narco goes home with Smith at the end of each shift.

For an officer less than two years into his law enforcement career and still growing in experience and confidence, having an extra set of eyes, a teammate to talk to during a late-night shift, and a friend to rely on in a tight spot has made a significant impact on the early stages of Smith’s journey as an officer. 

“I think it’s definitely helped me grow as an officer and as a person, because he keeps me on my toes constantly,” Smith said. “He’s always doing something to keep my attention. There’s no not paying attention with him. If we’re just sitting there and it’s 2 a.m., he’ll get bored and he’ll start bouncing around in the back of the truck. So I’m wide awake, and he keeps me alert at all times. Just the discipline it takes and the training on my end it takes to be able to work with a dog helped me a lot when I got out on the street because I’ve only been in law enforcement for about a year and a half. Four months of that was with a dog, and two months of that was in training, so the discipline it takes to have a K-9 has helped me on the street a lot.”