11/22/06 — Fremont's newest cop has wet nose

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Fremont's newest cop has wet nose

By Lee Williams
Published in News on November 22, 2006 1:45 PM

FREMONT -- He can wag his tail, pant and roll over. He can even lick your face.

Rex, a 3-year-old K-9 officer, is best friend to officers at the Fremont Police Department, but a criminal's nightmare.

Just ask his trusted partner and K-9 dog handler Officer Chris Wilkerson.

"He's a very special dog. He loves to be loved on. He loves to be petted," Wilkerson said. But despite his friendly disposition, Rex is always at the ready, his partner added.

"People don't think he will bite, but as we'll show you, he will."

More than a dozen members of the Fremont Crime Watch got a chance to see firsthand how this Belgian Malinois (pronounced MAL-in-wah) is helping to keep crime down and the town of 1,463 residents safe.

Wilkerson, who often works the drug-infested areas in Fremont, hid cocaine and marijuana in the room. Rex raced to a black suitcase, knocked it over and began to scratch and bark wildly, signifying drugs were inside.

Wilkerson rewarded the canine with a treat.

Next, Rex was tasked to find marijuana that was tucked underneath one of the visitor's chairs. Many in the room told Wilkerson they could not smell the pungent plant stashed right under their noses, but Rex did.

The pooch raced over to the chair and retrieved the marijuana. The audience clapped and cheered for the dog and Wilkerson slipped him a treat.

Wilkerson said Fremont police Chief Wayne Schwark decided to purchase the dog to track down drugs and to track down crime suspects.

Wilkerson said just Rex's sheer presence is a crime deterrent. Wilkerson's sense of smell is more than 2,000 times stronger than that of a human and can help root out drugs that are often stashed away in unusual places. Wilkerson said Rex is certainly a help when inspecting a car suspected of housing drugs.

"If he indicates on the car, I have probable cause to search it," Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson said he lived in Fremont all of his life, except for two years. He learned that Fremont had challenges and he came back to his hometown to make a difference and Rex gives him the opportunity to do just that.