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K-9 Baks, who has served on the Mooresville Police Department since 2016 with his handler, Officer Josh Barlow, began his well-deserved retirement after serving his last shift on July 24.
Officer Barlow originally began working with Baks in 2013, while he was still with the Landis Police Department. Because the Landis department is on the smaller side, Baks and Officer Barlow regularly trained with the Mooresville Police Department to maintain their skill set. The training led to Officer Barlow “falling in love with the area” and coming to Mooresville permanently.
“There was a lot of opportunity for training and growth here, so I made the switch,” explained Officer Barlow. “The Landis Police Department was kind enough to donate Baks to Mooresville, because MPD was short on K-9s at the time.”
While in service, Baks served as a dual-purpose K-9, trained in narcotics detection, apprehension, tracking, officer protection, and area and article searches. Other dual-purpose K-9s at the department include Cyrus, who works with Corporal Ed Gallagher, Valor (with Officer Andrew Beck), Hansel (with Officer Jesse Scott), and Ramon, who previously worked with Officer Jordan Sheldon. The department’s other K-9, Sadie, works with Officer Dan Walther as a narcotics-only dog, and she is primarily used in the Mooresville Graded School District.
Baks and Officer Barlow went to training school for three months when they were first paired together, and actively trained each Monday for four hours at a time to keep their skills sharp.
“If you don’t use (the skills), you lose them, so remaining proficient is very important,” he said. “Having a K-9 is a big commitment.”
Officer Barlow said Baks’ strength was narcotics detection, and said he was a helpful tool in making several hundred drug arrests.
“There was a jump and run case once, where the driver was a felon on probation, and he had two guns with the serial numbers scratched off, money and drugs in the car,” said Officer Barlow. “Baks was able to track him and he was sent back to federal prison.”
While catching criminals was a big part of Baks’ job, he also served as a bridge between Officer Barlow and the community.
“People are attracted to K-9s and ask about them, which makes building a relationship easier,” he said. “Whether it was a hardcore criminal or a good person who had a bad day, everyone who got in my vehicle would eventually start asking about Baks and it opened up a way to have a civil, productive conversation.”
Off the job, Baks is “very lovable, and wants to give constant kisses.”
“It’s really interesting, because it’s like flipping a switch,” said Officer Barlow. “He’s so friendly, but when he’s in work mode, it’s serious, because he knows he has a task to accomplish.”
Now that Baks is nine years old, it’s time for him to retire and enjoy all the perks that come with being off the job.
“I gave him a steak the day he retired,” laughed Officer Barlow. “I’m going to make sure that as his dad, he’s living a good, stress-free life with lots of treats and toys. He’s got a huge doghouse and a pool, and he has it made.”
With Baks retiring, Officer Barlow is making a career shift as well, and was chosen as Langtree Charter Academy’s first school resource officer.
“I was a substitute teacher for a while, and I thoroughly enjoyed being a positive influence on the kids,” he said. “As their first SRO, I know the importance of making a good name for our agency in this position, and I’m excited about it.”