K-9 officers chase criminals, track drugs in Victoria
By By Caty Hirst - CHIRST@VICAD.COM
March 9, 2013 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated March 8, 2013 at 9:09 p.m.
Feb. 24 - A patrol officer balances family, job
March 3 - County jailers live among criminals
• Today - Victoria K-9 units battle narcotic use in Victoria, see E1
• March 17 - Victoria firefighters become family
Officer Kelly Gibbs spends much of her life in the murky world of illegal narcotics.
A team member of the Victoria Police Department's special crimes unit, she battles drug dealers, gang members and addicts with the single goal of freeing Victoria of the horrors of drug addictions and related crimes.
She puts her life - and the life of her partner - on the line to do her job, she said.
"Personally, it is in the back of my head that something could happen because of that, but I'm a cop. I'm not going to stop doing what I do. You aren't going to scare me away," Gibbs said, arms crossed over her chest in seemingly subconscious defiance to the forces working against her.
K-9 Officer Robby, her Belgian malinois, won't be scared away either, she said.
Certified through the National Narcotic Dog Detector Association, Robby is one of the most valuable tools the division has, Gibbs said. Baco, his German shepherd counterpart, works with Officer Jason Stover.
Between the two K-9 officers, the department has seized more than $1.38 million and made 149 arrests since 2010.
The two dogs have been so effective, in fact, that the department just purchased another canine with funds seized after Robby or Baco alerted on narcotics, said Sgt. Eline Moya, of the Victoria Police Department.
The large, muscled dogs, complete with bulletproof vests, ride with their handlers for 10-, 12- or even 24-hour shifts before going home to play and eat with their handler's family.
They have searched boats, cars, houses, trains and planes, Stover said. The dogs have chased criminals and have been injured in the line of duty.
"You want to see a big girl cry? Have something happen to an animal or my dog," Gibbs said, stroking Robby eagerly sitting at her side.
The dogs are police officers, Gibbs said, and heroes.
Gibbs, Stover, Robby and Baco are just a few of the public servants who provide for Victoria every day. The four-part series "Behind the Badge" takes a look at the lives of these men, women and - in this case - animals.