The Nueces Co. Sheriff's Department introduced it newest crime-fighters in the Nueces Co. Commissioners Court on Wednesday.
Deputy Rudy Gonzales and Sgt. Frank Campos recently completed one month's worth of training alongside two of the department's newest officers, one-and-a-half-year-old K-9s Hera and Grin.
"They are trained in three disciplines," said Nueces Co. Sheriff J.C. Hooper said. "They are trained as patrol dogs; they will come to an aid of an officer who is in trouble; they will track you down if you run from an officer -- they will stop you. And they are also trained as drug dogs."
Hera, who is partnered with Gonzales, is a Belgian Malinois; Grin, who is partnered with Campos, is a Dutch Shepherd. They will be used for interdiction efforts on highways to crack down on human trafficking, as well as drug detection.
But it's the K-9 teams' patrol units that are really impressive.
The Nueces Co. Sheriff's Department also added two brand-new vehicles at a price tag of $40,000 each. The units are equipped with special cameras that can read license plates as they travel.
"This unit is equipped with three cameras on the front and back, and they are always recording," said Nueces Co. Sheriff's Deputy Rudy Gonzales. "They look at license plates and they are tied in with our TCIC, NCIC, as well as DEA and Border Patrol. So we get alerts in milliseconds."
The vehicles also are equipped with a special alert system to regulate the heat inside the vehicle if a K-9 is onboard: an alarm will sound, the windows will roll down and fans will switch on.
It costs close to $60,000 to properly equip each K-9 team, between the cost of the vehicle, training and other incidentals. Both were paid for with seized federal dollars.
"And this is money that went through a very strict process to ensure it was money that was taken from people who benefited from the drug trade," Hooper said. "It's giving the Nueces Co. Sheriff's Department more tools for fighting crimes."