Many people ask about our K-9 program and how it is doing. The answer is great! Both Deputy Nicholas Leadbetter and K-9 Zaki are hard workers and well trained at their job. The public and businesses who supported this K-9 program cannot be thanked enough for their help.

To date Zaki has made a good number of drug cases, assisted many officers and agencies with drug crimes, article searches, tracking and finding fugitives, helping schools all while he enjoys meeting the public and the amazing people we serve.

Deputy Leadbetter told me recently that Zaki is nearly at 200 K-9 deployments for 2019 which is a steep number but that is a lot of contacts. The reputation Deputy Leadbetter and Zaki have built has led to people giving up their dope before the dog arrives on scene or before being deployed from the vehicle. Suspects who have fled or were hiding from law enforcement have given up because Zaki is on scene. Trust us, Zaki is the king at Hide and Seek in addition to having an amazing nose.

The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) obtained a 2019 Chevrolet Tahoe which is now assigned to Deputy Leadbetter and Zaki. The reason being is the Charger, which remains a backup K-9 and spare vehicle is pretty much worn out but also way too small for all the equipment used with Zaki for deployment and frequent training requirements. The Charger did not have sufficient room for a prisoner and after all the bids were in we felt most comfortable with the Tahoe for all the equipment in addition to ample room for Zaki and detainees. Remember we are spread out over 500 square miles and have a very small number of sworn staff, so when one of us is on a call, we handle most all of it while we are there.

The neat thing about law enforcement is our vehicles are law enforcement durable but they do not have all the bells and whistles the civilian models may have as those models sell for upwards of $60k. Our new Tahoe was sold to the county by the local Chevrolet dealer at the great price of $38,859. Yes, it is a lot of money but it is very comparable in price to many other police package vehicles. The Tahoe will most likely last the service life of Zaki while he is with our office and will be worth more at trade-in down the road which will save money long term by not removing and adding the equipment to other vehicles.

Our goal is to help reduce drug and other crimes in our area while assisting agencies to better protect the officers and communities.

A big thank you to Deputy Leadbetter and Zaki for their dedicated and hard work. A huge "Thank You" to our citizens and businesses for standing with us and supporting your local law enforcement. Together we do make a difference!

Steve Cox is the Livingston County Sheriff.