By Janet Cruz
Everyday brave men and women within the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and all who serve in law enforcement, face some tough situations on the streets. Having a partner on patrol helps tremendously when faced with high-stress calls. K-9s are known to be very helpful when getting the job done and they can be a valuable partner to any deputy.
Deputy Shawn McCleary has spent 14 years in the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and is also a Boating Safety Officer. In 2019, He was assigned handler to a K-9 named Grimm. Together Deputy McCleary and Grimm patrol the streets and waters by boat in Lake Havasu City.
You may have also seen them both at the Havasu Balloon Festival demonstrating some of the neat skills Grimm can do on command.
In order to be ready for the tasks ahead, Grimm and McCleary had to undergo training together. Once a deputy is assigned to become a handler they are sent to train together. The deputies are taken to a kennel where dogs are available for them to select to test.
“Your station will let you know what they are looking for in a dog before you test the dog,” McCleary said.
K-9s and their handlers will then go on to a 12-week training. The training involved (depending on the dog’s purpose) includes sniffing for narcotics, and training for basic criminal comprehension. Once completed, both handlers and their K-9s graduate and are ready for duty.
“I guess you can say, when deputies are selecting their K-9s, the K-9s also select their handler,” McCleary said.
Back on March 17, 2022, Grim was assigned to assist the Mohave Area General Narcotics Enforcement Team and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) Enforcement in the inspection of a commercial vehicle on eastbound Interstate 40. Mohave County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Grimm was requested to respond and assist. During the inspection, K-9 Grimm alerted to the presence of narcotics inside the tractor.
Officers searched the commercial vehicle and located duffel bags that contained several bundles of a substance that tested positive for an illegal substance. It had an estimated total street value of $2 million. In addition to training for searches, they are also trained in basic obedience.
“Just like a human partner, you have to work as a team and get along with the dog you select to work with,” McClear said.
McCleary added that funding for K-9s does not come from taxes. Instead, K-9s are funded solely on donations through the Mohave County Sheriffs Office K-9 Foundation.
For more information on donating, visit the Mohave County Sheriff’s K-9 Foundation Facebook page.
McCleary also holds a Associates Degree in Criminal Justice and Computer Networking and Computer Data Communications. K-9 Grimm and McCleary have been together patrolling the Havasu area together since Grimm’s arrival to Mohave County in 2019.