BAXTER — Community service by man and canine were recognized in Baxter on Tuesday.
Patrick Pickar, past vice president of the U.S. Police Canine Association (PCA) and awards committee chairman, said it was a great honor to recognize Baxter Police Officer Matt Maier and his K-9 partner, Gator, for dedication and professionalism in assisting the city’s police department.
Gator was not present in the council chambers after recovering from a recent suspect chase.
Pickar said canine teams serve communities by finding drugs, lost children or fleeing suspects.
Pickar is a past president of the U.S. PCA’s Region 12. Seven law enforcement officers from around the state read recognition submissions each quarter. The top honor is case of the quarter.
In the past, Maier and Gator have received 31 citations, 22 medallions, and one honorable mention as a runner-up for case of the quarter.
Pickar said that in his 15 years as a member of the U.S. PCA Region 12 he’s never given out a case of the quarter award for both patrol and narcotics detection.
The patrol case for a burglary in progress in the Bay Lake area came to Maier and Gator when they were off-duty. They tracked the burglary suspect quite a distance and pushed him toward deputies who were able to set up ahead of the suspect and make the arrest.
In the narcotics case, Maier took a complaint of a vehicle weaving all over the road pulling a trailer with a snowmobile and a gun safe. Gator indicated drugs were present in the safe.
A search warrant was obtained and drugs, drug paraphernalia, cutting agents and four firearms were found. The driver was a confirmed gang member and arrested for numerous felonies.
“It means a lot to me to give Officer Maier and K-9 Gator these awards, not only because I work closely with him or train police dogs with him, but as a resident of the city of Baxter — if something were ever to happen to my family or loved ones and a dog was needed, I’d want the best K-9 team that was out there. The city of Baxter has that best K-9 team in Officer Matt Maier and K-9 Gator.”
Mayor Darrel Olson and the council noted Maier’s long association with the city and praised the K-9 team’s work for Baxter.