We recently shared a story by veteran Pete Mecca on two military sergeants on four-legs from World War II, pitbull Sgt. Stubby and Sgt. Reckless, a horse that was promoted to the rank of sergeant as a Marine. Here the Walton County Sheriff’s Office also has its own four-legged ranked officer, Sgt. Falco. The K-9 officer was given the ranking last week after passing some necessary tests.
“It’s recognition for the job he and his handler have done,” said WCSO Chief Deputy Keith Brooks. “He is a very positive role model for the Sheriff’s Office and we wanted to recognize him by giving him the new rank.”
Sgt. Falco was one of the service dogs that was featured last year in the spring-summer issue of Walton Living Magazine. In announcing Sgt. Falco’s promotion on the Facebook page, WCSO also announced that “in a couple of weeks, Sgt. Falco will have a new K-9 partner.”
Brooks said that Sgt. Falco’s promotion is not just a testament to his service to the Sheriff’s Office, but also that of his human partner, Deputy Matt Hill.
“The importance of K9s in law enforcement is two fold,” Brooks said. “They are a tool that we use, however, they are a very important part of the Sheriff’s office. (Falco) has had a lot of success in what he does, but not only him. Deputy Hill is a very important part of Falco’s success and being dedicated to the dog, Falco does a lot of dangerous things, but he has Deputy Hill to go along with him. They train above and beyond what K9 handler and dog usually do. It is something that we’re very proud of. Falco is a member of our law enforcement family at the Sheriff’s office. However, he is a worker and has a drive to do what he does. Several of us, inluding myself and Major Damien Mercer, have worked with K-9s and it is certainly an experience to have them with you. You create a bond with them that is unbreakable.”
WCSO said that Sgt. Falco “earned” his new ranking – it was not just given to him. Although they did confess that the Sheriff did waive the written part of the exam, Sgt. Falco did pass the physical fitness and verbal components of the exam. In her article in Walton Living Magazine, Christy Breedlove detailed the partnership between Hill and his German Shepherd partner, now Sgt. Falco. The two work a regular 40-hour work week, “but are on call 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.”
“Rigorously trained at the Alabama Canine Law Enforcement Officers Training Center outside of Tuscaloosa, Ala., the duo patrol the area in their specially equipped Chevy Tahoe. Falco’s kennel is in the back and is monitored by an alarm to alert his handler when the temperatures reach above safety levels,” Breedlove wrote. Falco has the best safety equipment available, include a safety vest. As is often customary, Hill issues commands to Falco in the dog’s native language, which is Dutch. Hill told Breedlove that it signals to Falco that he is on duty and also prevents a suspect from attempting to interfere with the commands.