Newest Pass police officer is only seven
PASS CHRISTIAN -- The newest Pass Christian police officer may be only 7 years old, but he has a lifetime of experience.
Wodan, a Belgian Malinois, began his duties with the department in January. His partner, Sgt. Edward Walley, said the dog came to the Coast after retiring from a Louisiana police department.
"He came to us from USK9 in Louisiana," Walley said. "He had been with Lafayette Police Department, and they gave him to USK9."
Wally said Wodan, the department's only dog, required only minor training was required before they started working together.
"I was a prior K9 officer with the Harrison County Sheriff's Office, so when we got him, I had to do a few days training with the dog to show that the dog could still do his job," he said.
One of the misconceptions about police dogs, Walley said, is the animals are used only for seeking out narcotics.
"He is a full multi-purpose dog," he said. "He's trained in searching, narcotics sniffing, building clearing and criminal apprehension -- if you run or have drugs or hide in a building, he'll find you or your drugs and if you throw a gun away in the woods, he will probably find it."
Wodan also responds to police commands only in Dutch, though when he's off duty he understands English fluently.
"He's trained in Dutch so that way people can't just talk to him and give him commands," he said.
Walley said he is still getting used to his partner's temperament.
"He has a great personality; sometimes he's friendly and sometimes he's not," he said. "But he's here to do his job -- to him, it's just a game."
Pass Police Chief Tim Hendricks said Wodan is the first K9 officer the department has had in years.
"I think it's been about 15 to 20 years since there was one here," he said. "When I took over as chief, it was one of the first things we assessed that we needed, because they are so versatile.
Walley said Wodan had been on the job only a few weeks when he was faced with a very difficult task.
"He played a major role in crowd control in the aftermath of the shooting after the Pass parade," he said. "He has a very strong presence, and he was useful in keeping the crowd back and let us set up a perimeter while thousands of people ran around searching for their loved ones."
At the end of a shift, Walley said Wodan needs to unwind like any other officer, especially one that is 7.
"He loves to get on the ground and wrestle," Walley said. "He's a good wrestler."