First Responder of Week: Paying tribute to LCPD’s four-legged finest

Pamela Sleezer

The Lake Charles Police Department paid tribute to two of the department’s four-legged finest recently.

K9 Biko, a 13 year-old Belgian Malinois, passed away on June 3 after serving over eight years with the department where he assisted in nearly 200 criminal apprehensions. Of those, 25 were physical apprehensions and when he wasn’t apprehending a suspect, his handler Sgt. Mitch Sawyer said Biko was provided backup to his fellow officers more than 1,000 times.

“His presence alone helped to prevent violent situations,”  Sawyer said.

Sawyer can recall two of the most memorable Biko moments over the years serving alongside his K9 partner. In March 2019, Biko was released to apprehend a murder suspect who had wrecked a vehicle near the lake on Shell Beach Drive in a pursuit with officers. The suspect fled on foot into the lake and Biko followed without hesitation into chest deep water about 40 yards from the lake’s edge.

Biko’s determination never faltered, even as Sawyer said the suspect attempted to drown Biko in hopes of getting the dog to release his grip. Biko remained steadfast, and his actions led to the successful apprehension of the suspect with assistance from Sawyer and two additional SWAT team members.

For his bravery in that moment, Biko was recognized by the National Police Canine Association.

Another time, Sawyer said Biko was deployed to search the attic of an abandoned home to locate an armed robbery suspect who had barricade himself there. Sawyer remembered the tense moment the suspect threw Biko through the living room ceiling, and then him watching as the K9 held on with only his front paws as he was suspended 8 feet in the air.

“Biko pulled himself back through the ceiling like a cat and apprehended the suspect. I have never seen or heard of another dog doing something like that. But both of these incidents were the rule, not the exception with Biko,” Sawyer said.

For all of his dedication for his job, Biko was just as devoted to his handler and his family life at home. During his final year of life, Biko spent his time living every bit the life of a pampered family pet living with Sawyer, his wife and children. Just as any two partners would develop a bond, Sawyer said he developed a love for his K9 counterpart that only a few would understand.

“As good of a police dog that he was, he was an even better friend to me. We could be in the most stressful situation, and after it was all done I could walk him back to my unit and he would lick my face like a puppy. At home, he was able to settle into normal life with the family. I’m sure a part of him missed work during his retirement, but honestly you couldn’t tell it very much. Being at home with us was just as much a part of him as the job,” Sawyer said.

Also retiring from the Lake Charles Police Department last summer was K9 Bobby, an 8 year-old German Shepherd who worked alongside his handler, Cpl. Jacob Pearson.

K9 Bobby received his commission in September 2015, and was directly responsible for more than 70 criminal apprehensions over the course of his career.

K9 Bobby was certified by the National Police Canine Association and provided assistance to other agencies in the area when needed, which included one of his most notable career credits when he assisted the Westlake Police Department in locating a firearm that had been thrown into a large field following the commission of a crime. 

Upon his retirement, K9 Bobby has continued to live with Pearson and his family.

””

Sgt. Mitch Sawyer and K9 Biko

Special to the American Press

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