New Crestview police department K9 makes debut


CRESTVIEW, Fla.- After two years in the works, the Crestview police department now has a new K9

In May 2017, just when then-Crestview Police public information officer Brian Hughes was to present a program for a Walker Elementary School third-grade class, the teacher’s laptop spontaneously started a 15-minute update.

“Just talk about police stuff,” the teacher said as she furiously tried to wrangle the recalcitrant computer into obedience. Thus an impromptu discourse about the amazing capabilities of police K9’s ensued.

“A police dog visited another classroom last week, but we didn’t get to meet him,” lamented one boy during the discussion. So the following week, Mr. Hughes returned to the class, this time with K9 Officer Sonic and his partner in tow.

Walker Principal, Lorna Carnley, visited the class during the K9 unit’s visit. When she heard the Crestview Police wanted to get a fourth K9 to cover all four duty shifts, she instantly said, “Why don’t we do a fundraiser?” Popsicle and pizza parties, classroom-to-classroom challenges, business solicitations and a whole manner of other fundraising efforts followed.

When coupled with gifts from the community, in less than two years more than $18,000 was raised, covering the purchase of a puppy, his equipment and training.

The now-17-month-old jet black German shepherd, who was born in Germany, arrived in Crestview in March.

He was partnered with Officer Corey Rawles, a former K9 handler for the Walton County Sheriff’s Office.

As promised, the Police Department named him Walker, Walker has now been certified in narcotics detection and is currently training with his partner to apprehend suspects, with certification expected in about a month and a half, Ofc. Rawles said.

“He’s a great dog,” K9 Ofc. Joshua Ellrick said. His own partner, Officer Hero, was introduced to Walker earlier in April. The two dogs hit it off, neither exerting superiority over the other, much to the relief of both Officers Rawles and Ellrick, who had kept a tight rein on their partners as they slowly came closer together.

The dogs’ cordiality could mean a good working relationship, Ofc. Ellrick said. Walker, who still has big puppy paws and one ear that sometimes flops over, looks like he could be Sonic’s little brother, being jet black with tan socks, was an instant hit with the Walker students and their principal. “When they told me that you guys had donated a whole bunch of money, I wanted to come by, introduce you to Walker and say thank you very much,” Officer Rawles told the students gathered Monday in the Walker Elementary all-purpose room.

“We appreciate it.” Whether Principal Carnley heard much of Ofc. Rawles’ comments are uncertain, being a bit distracted: She had knelt down to meet her school’s namesake, who immediately started washing her face.

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