BELVIDERE (WIFR) -- While a lot of local police departments, including Rockford, are in the process of hiring more officers Belvidere already has a new member of the force. This cop has four legs and likes to slobber a little bit, but officers say their new K-9 is a vital part of the department.
The hunt is on for a hidden pouch of drugs. Two year old Baks is the newest member of the Belvidere Police Department and he's showing us everything he can do.
"My K-9 tracked a burglar. He just tracked the scent through the backyard, the K-9 tracked him right to where he was hiding underneath a camper," Officer Robert Kozlowski, Baks Handler, said.
Baks and the department's other K-9 Ralphie focus most of their time on tracking the scent of criminals and missing people. Kozlowski says his dog is always ready for anything.
"He understands when my tone of voice gets raised and there’s tension going on with me, he can sense that,” Kozlowski said.
The K-9’s are trained to bring down a person in just a matter of seconds, and they're fast too, racing toward suspects at more than 20 miles an hour. Officers believe that intimidation factor is keeping drugs off the streets of Belvidere.
"We have them on surveillance where they say they don't want to come to our community to sell drugs because they're afraid of getting caught," Sgt. Matt Wallace said.
Many have been caught thanks to Baks and Ralphie. Officers say the K-9s helped them find $20,000 in a car and a kilo of cocaine.
When the day is over these dogs go from officers back to pets.
"He's my buddy." Kozlowski said.
It is expensive to keep the K-9 unit up and running, however it's completely funded by the department receives from drug busts.