During a drug bust or manhunt, law enforcement officers from many agencies might work together, but some of the most vital officers on these scenes are K9 units.
In Whitehouse, many people know Whitehouse police officer Kevin Bisnette, not just because he dons a uniform, but because no ma- tter where he goes, he’s got a popular companion: His partner and best friend Vox.
“I am actually with him more than I am with my family. It’s like having another kid. You take care of him just like you would another normal kid, and he’s the same way. He goes with me everywhere I go,” Bisnette said.
Bisnette and Vox have been inseparable since 2010 ,when they united at a training camp.
“We went and trained in Louisiana for a month and a half.”
At these training camps, officers work with many dogs to see which one they get along with best.
“He kind of picked me,” Bisnette said. “Like from the first day he was real attached to me.”
That connection is what lets Bisnette know Vox has his back.
“Every time I stop a car, he’ll sit up in the kennel and he sits and watches me. I also have a button I can hit and it will open that door to where he can come out and help me if someone tries to attack,” Bisnette said.
Protecting Bisnette is just one of Vox’s many jobs.
“Vox is what’s called a patrol dog. He can do the building searches, like if we have somebody who is in a building that has a weapon and I don’t want to send an officer in there, I can send Vox and he’ll go get him. He does the tracking. He can track for lost persons or suspects; he does the narcotics,” Bisnette said.
Vox does narcotics searches almsot every day for all kinds of drugs: Marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, meth and more.
So how is he trained to find all of these? It’s all about a little PVC pipe.
“It’s based off of a reward system,” Bisnette said. “When you start out you put the toy or reward wherever the narcotics are so whenever he smells that specific odor, he thinks he’s finding that reward. You build it up to eventually he searches for it on his own.”
Another big part of Vox’s job is tracking and apprehension.
“Apprehension work is going to be for someone we know is an armed threat. We’ll track them until we get to him, and that’s kind of his way of disarming him to keep him from hurting me or any other officer before we get up there,” Bisnette said.
Apprehension training is done with a padded sleeve. Vox charges the person in the sleeve and releases as soon as Bisnette says so. It doesn’t hurt the person in the sleeve.
“He’s not an aggressive dog at all,” Bisnette said. “He can turn it off and on. He can go from biting someone to lying down and letting 35 kids pet him. It’s real easy for him.”
At home Bisnette’s three young children treat Vox like a brother.
“He is part of my family. I love him just like he’s one of the kids,” he said.
That love and undying trust make Bisnette and Vox a true force to be reckoned with. Their uniforms represent a responsibility of bravery, dedication, and som- etimes sacrifice; but no matter what danger they face, these two officers know they’ll never have to face it alone.
Not every K9 unit can do what Vox does. Some dogs can only track, and some can only do narcotics work. It all depends on their personality. Many K9 teams in the area train together for about eight hours every week so that when something big happens, they can work in unison.
Smith County Sheriff’s Office, DPS, and Tyler, Troup and Arp police departments all have K9 units.