A four-legged felon catcher

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 2, 2006

The Greenville Police Department's newest officer is a furry, four-legged, 18-month-old canine named Eiko, (pronounced Ike-O).

Purchased by the department to aid in drug search and seizures, the Belgian Malinois - part of the German Shepherd family - also has a proud lineage.

Or so handler Lt. Kenneth Parker thinks.

&#8220He's pedigree. And I've got papers on him that lists who his father and mother was and so on, but I can't read Dutch,” chuckles Parker, who spends much of the time brushing brown fur off his uniform when the excitable Eiko is on leash.

Much of that friendliness fades when out in the field, said Parker. Eiko is, above all else, a police dog, trained to corner crooks, track the missing and sniff out illegal narcotics.

Parker spent five weeks in West Virginia at Ultimate Working Dogs, studying under instructor Tracy Landis. Parker and Eiko worked together as a team as the dog learned to detect the slightest hint of marijuana, meth, heroine, and cocaine and crack residue.

Other situations, said Parker, included placing the dog among a crowd and having people try and get his attention to distract Eiko from the job at hand.

Eiko joined the department's Special Response Team on Monday during a drug search of a residence. Parker said the dog performed admirably.

The city provided $9,300 for the purchase and training of Eiko, while the 2nd Judicial Drug Task Force - of which the GPD is a part of - provided $9,300.

And while Eiko has had his first mission, Lt. Anthony Barganier, GPD spokesperson, said there's only one thing left to do:

&#8220We have to have a swearing in ceremony for him some time,” said Barganier with a smile.