GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - There's a new four-legged cop in town ready to sniff out more crime in Hall County.
Gio, a young Dutch Shepard mix, is the first police service dog at the Hall County Sheriff's Department in more than a decade. (Source: Kelsey Dickeson, KSNB)
For the first time in about a decade, the Hall County Sheriff's Department has their very own police service dog. His name is Gio, a one and a half year old Dutch Shepard mix.
The department got him from a vendor in Alabama. Now him and his handler, Deputy Draper Sullivan, work weekends from 2 p.m. to midnight, and some weekdays.
After finishing a four-month long program at the Nebraska State Patrol's K-9 training camp, Gio is now certified in drug detection and patrol work. That includes evidence recovery, tracking people, search and rescues and clearing buildings.
"It's just another tool on the belt of law enforcement," Sullivan said. "If we need to enter a building, we can send the dog in first to clear it out. It helps protect human lives. It's a great asset to have."
Sullivan and Gio now practice four to eight hours a week to keep his policing skills sharp.
Hall County Sheriff Rick Conrad said they're hoping Gio's keen sense of smell will help them during drug searches and arrests.
"I don't know how many we've had, but I guess you always question how many did we miss," Conrad said.
Once a K-9 handler himself, Conrad said he knows just how valuable a tool the dogs can be.
Before Gio arrived, the Sheriff's Department used dogs from the Grand Island Police Department and the Nebraska State Patrol. In times when they needed a dog right away, it wasn't always the best solution.
Now that they have their own K-9, it'll save the department, and other law enforcement agencies, valuable time.
"GIPD and the State Patrol, they're great. When you need something, like a dog, they try and get it for you. But it's not always available. With a community the size of Grand Island and Hall County there's no reason there shouldn't be a dog available at all the agencies all the time," Conrad said.
Gio lives with Sullivan, where he'll remain until he retires in five to six years, and possibly after that as well.
Gio didn't come cheap: He cost more than $10,000. Conrad said the department wouldn't have been able to buy him on their own. They're able to have him thanks to an anonymous donor.
Conrad said they'd like to eventually get another K-9 for the department and continue to grow the program back up.
If you'd like to make a donation or ask for more information you can call the Hall County Sheriff's office at (308) 385-5200.