Celebration held to welcome newest addition to to sheriff's dept.

Sue Fleming, The Freer Press

Many law enforcement officers gathered last Thursday in Freer at a noon luncheon held at the Country West Palace to welcome a new member of the Duval County Sheriff's Department, Devon, a German Sheperd specially trained to fight crime.

According to officials, the 2 1/2 year-old K-9, who is named after benefactor Devon Energy, was acquired from Mission, Texas, at a cost of $11,500.

For almost a month, Deputy Ruben Silva has been hard at work being trained as well as training the dog to become certified in narcotics, tracking and patrol.

“He's already been used during a couple of operations in tracking,” Silva said. “After a bail-out, three illegals were brought back from the brush because of him.”

Devon also kept three individuals from escaping a truck following the pursuit of the vehicle by officers, he said.

“When the truck stopped, the men jumped out, saw the dog, then jumped back inside,” he said grinning. “They weren't about to try to run from him.”

During a week and a half period, instructors of PSP International K-Nine Academy of Mission conducted training exercises allowed to take place at the local elementary, high school and a county shop.

Vehicles from the impound yard were also used in which to conduct mock searches, Silva explained.

“He's a work dog, but living with me, he also gets along well with my family,” he added. “My four kids and wife, Erica, enjoy him and he gets along well with them, too.”

Silva said he would like to thank everyone who contributed for the dog's purchase, and said a K-9 has been greatly needed in the county for a long time.

Sheriff Santiago Barrera Jr. also expressed thanks for the newest addition to the department.

“He's (Silva) not certified yet but will be in two weeks. I don't want to lose a case - the main thing he'll (Devon) be used for is fighting the drug problem and can assist other agencies,” he said. “If anyone needs to talk to me, they can reach me any time.”

Other contributors included Straight Line Construction, C.C. Forbes and Texas Energy.