Rico, Nashville Police Department’s K9, has retired after seven years on the roster. Rico and Greg Parker (NPD officer and K9 handler) became a team in the summer of 2009.
Rico, who is an 85 pound Belgian Malinois, spent the first three years of his life in Sweden where he was born. “The Nashville Police Department purchased him from K9 Concepts in Brassard, La., via a grant.” His original cost was $12,500, Parker confirmed.
Parker attended a three week training and certification course before bringing him to Nashville. “Rico has helped us make over 400 drug arrests. Some of them were felonies involving the confiscation of drugs, money and vehicles. He has chased down five people that tried to run. Two of these [people] had guns on them at the time of arrest along with drugs.” Parker added that Rico has “never bitten a civilian and has even chased people through two parties and past people in the general areas.”
With Rico’s assistance, Parker and other NPD officers have found “drugs in cars, trucks, vans, on people, in weeds, on road sides where they were thrown, and just about anywhere that it can be hidden.” Parker continued, “There have been a few times that we actually found the drugs within feet of where kids were playing. The suspects would see us coming up on them to make a traffic stop,[suspects would] make a quick corner and throw the drugs out the window. It may be Marijuana, crack cocaine, meth or pills, needles, straws, ready to smoke joints or blunts, it doesn’t matter what and or where, just so that they don’t get caught with it. Never mind that kids are in the area playing.”
Rico and Parker have always been ready to help other agencies as well such as: Sevier County, Pike County, DeQueen, Hempstead County, Mineral Springs, Murfreesboro, Blevins school, and the South Central Drug Task Force.
The intelligent has been able to turn a tense situation into a comedy routine for Parker and the other NPD officers. Parker recalled a few years ago when the late NPD Officer Jessie Ricks “called me to do a vehicle search and he had stopped a car and he wanted Rico to do an exterior sniff search. I had Rico start around the vehicle and when he got to the passenger door he alerted. There was a young white male sitting in the seat. Rico then immediately put his nose under the door handle and lifted up opening the door. He had figured out how to do this on his own. As soon as the door opened he stuck his head in, sniffed around and stuck his nose against the guys groin area then hit the guy with his paw. This guy gave a whole new meaning to the word white. He had been mouthing and making hand signs, he turned into a bleached white granite statue. I’ve never seen anyone turn that pale, that quick. After we got him out, he reached into his pants and pulled out a bag of marijuana that had been placed right where Rico said it was.” Rico has opened several car doors over the last few years and “most people get that ‘mouth-opened, big-eyed I can’t believe what I just saw look.’” Rico has been entertaining over the years.
Rico’s talents were not limited to drug searches. Parker recalled an occasion when Rico tracked down a missing elderly man. “We tracked down a missing man who had walked away from a nursing home. He had memory problems and after stepping out to smoke a cigarette, he just walked off. Rico found his trail and we followed it to a house several blocks away. The man had lost his shoes and trying to figure out where he was.” After they located the man, Parker rewarded Rico with some chicken nuggets from McDonald’s. “He loves chicken nuggets and the local McDonald’s gives them to him for free. I have to watch his weight so that is a special occasion treat.”
Dr. Smith and the Nashville Animal Clinic have provided Rico with 100 percent vet care. Parker explained that Dr. Smith “has never charged for anything including heart worm meds, teeth cleaning, annual shots, anything.” Rico has recently started showing signs of hip dysplasia – which is similar to arthritis for K9’s. The NAC has “provided me with his medication, which isn’t cheap, for free to help Rico work with less pain.” Parker confirmed that Rico’s hip dysplasia is the primary reason for his retirement, not his age. Rico celebrated his 10th birthday on Jan. 15. Rico will remain with Parker and his wife, Yolanda, at their home.
The police department has acquired another K9, named Apollo. He is a year and a half old and is also a Belgian Malinois like Rico. Parker traveled to Kansas to work with Apollo for several weeks before bringing him to Nashville. Apollo has already assisted in three drug arrests. Parker speaks Swedish and German to Apollo for commands and he is trained in narcotic detection and suspect tracking and apprehension.
In addition to Parker, Apollo joins the NPD with the following officers:
Dale Pierce – Chief
Amy Marion – Assistant Chief
Larry Marion – Criminal Investigator
Mark Barnes – Narcotics Investigator
Clinton Tedford – Lieutenant
Ty Basiliere – Sergeant
Casey Parker – Patrolman
Chris Gates – Patrolman
Jimmy Steely – Patrolman
Jackie Thomas – Patrolman
Randy Bohn – Patrolman
Aaron Quick – Patrolman
Wayne Epperly – Patrolman
Keith Philamlee – Patrolman
Justin Garner – Patrolman