NEWTON GROVE —There’s a new officer in town and she really has a nose for crime.
Molly, a Belgian Malinois breed, was recently sworn in as a K-9 officer of the Newton Grove Police Department. Some of her duties will include finding drugs, evidence searches and tracking people.
Molly works with Patrolman Wayne Johnson, who is also new to the department. He was also sworn in during a recent ceremony.
“She’s non-aggressive, really friendly and loves kids,” Johnson said about his four-legged fellow officer. “She’s real passive and a lot of police officers are getting away from aggressive because of lawsuits and stuff like that. If someone was to get bit, it could cause problems.”
After serving agencies in Sampson and Johnston counties, he decided to come to Newton Grove.When Johnson is not spreading the gospel as a full-time minister, he enjoys working with Molly.
“Working with a K-9 is my passion and my hobby,” Johnson said. “I just enjoy it.”
The first step in the training process is having a good dog. It takes between eight and 10 weeks to form a good partnership. She was formally trained at East Coast Canine in Tarboro.
“It takes a lot of time and patience. The handler has to be taught because the dog has the basics,” Johnson said about the certification process. “The dog and the handler have to work together. She and I had to go through a formal program.”
Johnson and Molly have been a team for about three years, through their work in other agencies.
“She’s an all-around good dog,” Johnson said. “She’s a very good asset for any law enforcement agency.”
Thanks to a partnership between Johnson and Police Chief Frankie Harrell, the K-9 unit is now available to assist the department.
“There’s a need for it everywhere nowadays,” Johnson said about the value of having a K-9 around. “We got five major highways coming through town, so you can believe there’s a lot of activity.
Newton Grove has less than 700 residents, but Johnson stressed that traffic is always a constant flow, which may bring a little crime.
“I’ll think you’ll be amazed at the number of vehicles that travel though this little town,” he said. “I was noticing traffic the night of Memorial Day and I couldn’t keep up with the cars.
“Ninety-eight percent of them are probably doing nothing wrong,” Johnson said. “But there’s going to be 2 percent going through that are up to no good. There’s a lot of drug activity going on nowadays and if we can curb some of it and keep some drugs off the street, we’ve done something.”
Molly and Johnson are looking forward to the small-town feel of Newton Grove and protecting its residents. Johnson and Molly plans to participate in the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, traffic stops and checkpoints.
Bringing Molly to town did not cost local taxpayers any money. A lot of equipment, such as the cage for the car, was donated by other agencies.
“We appreciate the opportunity to work here and we’re looking forward to it,” Johnson said. “I know she’s excited every time she sees that car door open.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.