In mid-March, one of our K-9's was attempting to apprehend a dangerous felon who was hiding in a pond. The suspect grabbed the K-9's head and shoved it under water in an attempt to drown the dog. Fortunately, the K-9 wasn't harmed and the bad guy went to jail.
In light of this, it became clear that while K-9's may not be suitable for in-water apprehensions. And since there are 554 lakes within Polk County, other options were considered.
The PCSO field tested various animals to be used when suspects enter the water in an attempt to escape.
Otters were among the fastest, but flinging one fifty feet was too simple for the bad guys.
Elephants were not only fast, but they were impossible to be thrown by a suspect. Unfortunately, they don't fit in Ford Explorers.
Manatee were tested but they only fared well when the suspects were older than 95 years old and covered in lettuce, which is a scenario that only really occurs once or twice a month in Polk County.
We tried cats, but, seriously, they are way to smart to get near any kind of water. And, they only work when they pretty much feel like it, which is almost never. And who wants to look at a wet cat—not pretty.
Finally, we tested alligators. They proved to be very fast in the water and not easy for suspects to free themselves from.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office is pleased to announce the creation of a unit like no other in the United States: The PCSO G8R Unit.
Ten deputies are currently being trained to work as handlers for our G8Rs, and funding has already been secured to provide each G8R with a fitted bullet proof vest.
Just like their K-9 counterparts, these G8Rs will also be available for demonstrations at area schools and nursing homes.