GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - The City of Gautier is beefing up its police team to help sniff out drugs and keep neighborhoods safe. The department has purchased a new four-legged crime fighter named Caesar to do just that.
"The city council granted us this approval to purchase a new K9 with asset forfeiture money. Right now, the dog is about 10-months-old and being trained," Public Affairs Officer Matt Hoggatt said
Once Caesar finishes his training, he will join Justice and his handler, who have been part of the K9 division since last year.
The partners do everything from tracking fugitives to sniffing out illegal drugs in and around the city.
"We arm the interstate, all Jackson County, and all these agencies are involved in it. Our focus is to stopping all the illegal activity on the interstate, because it's a major thoroughfare for narcotics smuggling, money smuggling and arms smuggling. Our job is to stop it before it reaches its destination," K9 handler Officer David Bever said.
Caesar will do some security, but he'll spend a lot of time in the community and local schools focusing on crime prevention.
"They are also a very powerful public relations tool, and we use them in the schools as a means to speaking to children to not only deter them from using drugs, but we also try to intercept any of them who may already be involved with the illegal use, selling and the transportation of drugs," Hoggatt said.
The goal is to one day have a K9 on every police shift in Gautier.
"The chief is really positive about that, so much that we're going to have the first K9 training facility for K9 officers here in Gautier, MS. It will be used by the whole county and people along the Gulf Coast. It will be at our South Ladnier Police Substation, and we will be training dogs down there every week. That is just part of the passion that we share if you were at the police department for protecting citizens,” said Hoggatt.
Caesar still has at least two months of training left to complete. The police department said it doesn't have a handler yet for the new dog, but the chief will soon begin advertising for the position.