HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Henrico’s police leader honored his current and retiring K-9 partners as their caseloads continue to grow during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Henrico Police Chief Eric English applauded the work of the department’s K-9 program during a brief ceremony on Dabbs House Road on Tuesday afternoon.
“They are a strong, strong tool for us in crime-fighting in Henrico County,” English said. “We’ve made the changes and been able to adapt to those changes and our K-9s provide a valuable service to us.”
Those changes include adjusting to new legislation enacted this year in Virginia.
“With the legalization of marijuana, the dogs that were previously certified on that odor has to be retired so that opened up the door for me personally to get in the unit,” said Officer John Brandmaier.
Brandmaier, alongside his partner K9 Officer Creed, assists patrol officers with sniffing out illegal substances like cocaine, heroin, meth and ecstasy.
“On the drug side, unfortunately, what goes with drug use comes with crime,” he explained. “A large amount of our calls are from officers that are on a traffic stop that ask for a dog to screen the car to see if there are drugs inside.”
Officer Garrett Bardenheier and K9 Ghost track suspects accused of serious crimes while specializing in the apprehension of violent criminals.
“Myself and my other two counterparts, as well as their dogs, have noticed an uptick in certain crimes that require us to be utilized a little bit more even when I started a year ago,” Bardenheier said. “
Along with their respective support duties, these handlers with their canine partners assisted patrol officers on 729 calls for service and provided 813 support hours in addition to the increase in calls for service taking place around the county due to COVID-19, according to a press release.
“I’ve helped significantly on several homicide cases where we try to locate things from shell cases to firearms to cell phones discarded,” Officer Bardenheier recalled. “Really anything that has a human odor on it as well as a suspect that may have fled on foot in the area.”
The unit currently operates with nine active dogs, which includes three narcotic detection canines, three patrol canines, two explosive ordinance disposal canines and one bloodhound.