A Dog For The Sheriff's Dept.

Published 4:06 pm Tuesday, November 6, 2012

BUCKINGHAM – A valued member of the Buckingham County Sheriff's Office, Ricco, the department's narcotics detection canine, retired last year due to heart related problems.

His departure has left a big void at the sheriff's office and, ultimately, in the county.

Ricco was the kind of employee who was not only willing to work all three shifts but was available 24-hours a day, seven days a week. And, he worked for dog biscuits as well as an occasional pat on the head.

Email newsletter signup

With his departure, area residents are launching an effort to purchase a replacement.

Ricco, in his working capacity as a narcotics detection dog, was considered a single-purpose dog. He was well trained and effective.

A dog trained to detect drugs or track missing people is a valuable asset not only to law enforcement but also to those they serve.

Dogs trained to sniff out drugs can produce enough evidence to give an officer the right to search and seize illegal substances when subjects are stopped for other violations and there is a suspicion that something else is amiss.

Just knowing that such a service is available to area law enforcement can help deter potential perpetrators from acting illegally.

Officers involved in searching for illegal substances or tracking subjects on the run substantially reduce their own personal risk with a dog like Ricco to assist them. That's because a dog trained to do this kind of work can get it done quickly and efficiently while the officer keeps an eye open for any reprisals, should that occur.

Dogs trained to sniff and track don't only find criminals, they also look for missing children and help locate adults who become lost or missing for one reason or another. Many times, help is needed to locate an Alzheimer patient who may have strayed too far away from home to find their way back. Obviously, parents and concerned caregivers are thankful for a tracking police dog that can get the job done.

Dogs like Ricco are not inexpensive. Although Ricco was a single purpose dog trained to do only drug searches, Buckingham needs more. For that reason, Buckingham and Sheriff William G. Kidd are looking to replace Ricco with a dog that not only searches for illegal substances but also tracks and find perpetrators or persons who are lost or need to be located for one reason or another.

A community that decides to invest in such an animal can expect to pay upwards of ten to twelve thousand dollars. The expense has much to do with training. Both the dog and the deputy handler are trained together and qualified before placed into service. Additionally, periodic re-certifications are required to reinforce and supplement their training.

Moreover, there is the cost of equipment to house and handle the dog, and because the dog remains in a caged area in a scout car, the vehicle has to be environmentally equipped to ensure the dog doesn't suffer from heat or cold. That equipment can cost up to four thousand dollars.

Other than these expenses, upkeep is pretty standard. However, anyone who owns a dog knows that there are vet bills and food, and Ricco definitely liked his dog food.

During Ricco's employment with the Buckingham County Sheriff's Office, neighboring communities also benefited from his services.

Law enforcement officers in Cumberland, Fluvanna, and other counties close to Buckingham called when there was a need and have used Ricco to help find and seize illegal drugs in their communities.

Since Ricco's retirement, Sheriff Kidd has had to resort to borrowing search dogs for Buckingham. However, one can only imagine that the demands placed on the services of such an animal make it difficult to insure this community has the availability of a dog when required.

TRIAD Steps In

TRIAD, a chartered county organization of agencies that work together with law enforcement and the Virginia Attorney General's Office for the protection of disabled and senior citizens, has stepped forth to assist in this effort.

Ruth Anderson, who presides over Buckingham TRIAD, is working with Sheriff Kidd, Captain Roger Jamerson, and the Buckingham County Sheriff's Advisory Committee to find funds to purchase a replacement for Ricco.

TRIAD has committed to match up to $3,500 from funds they are able to find elsewhere in the community and beyond. However, no action will be taken until TRIAD has enough money to buy a dog and all the necessary support and handling equipment.

With luck and a lot of assistance from Buckingham and surrounding communities, the sheriff's department thinks this can be accomplished sometime early in 2013.

Deborah Branch and her sister Rachel provided a great start and a wonderful example of the community spirit needed to raise the necessary funds. The two young women recently planned and carried-out a carwash that resulted in over $300. Hopefully, their initiative is just the beginning of a collaborative community endeavor.

It is the hope of all those involved that readers of this article will realize the value of Ricco and his replacement by willingly help to fund this project.

According to organizers, another ten thousand dollars is needed. In reality, it's not a lot to ask from a community and surrounding areas that benefit from services like those that Ricco provided.

Everyone's help is needed. Donations, large or small, would be a great gift not only to law enforcement officers who risk their lives daily to keep this community safe but also to everyone who benefits from their efforts. Finding and funding a replacement for Ricco will indeed help make this community a more secure place to live.

Donations may be dropped off at the Buckingham County Sheriff's Office or sent to TRIAD, in care of Ruth Anderson, 1071 Fanny White Road, Dillwyn, VA. 23936. Checks should be made payable to Buckingham County TRIAD. For more information on how to help with this project call Ruth at (434)969-4253.