MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Hawaii, Feb. 1, 2018 —
The K-9 unit assigned to the provost marshal’s office here keeps a close nose to the ground to help preserve the peace while also providing a deterrent from hostile intent.
“Whether deployed overseas, searching for roadside bombs or aboard military installations locating narcotics and explosives, dog handlers and their partners are the first lines of defense,” said Marine Corps Cpl. Stevie Ezzell, a military police dog handler with the K-9 unit.
Ezzell patrols the base’s streets with his military working dog partner, Pedro.
Being a dog handler, Ezzell said, is a rewarding experience and provides another layer of defense for the base.
Ezzell said he and Pedro continuously train to increase their capabilities in searching and reacting to crimes. “We are constantly training to improve ourselves and progress the capabilities of the dogs,” Ezzell said. “You’re continuously working towards the next level, whether that is finding odors that are harder to locate or biting a suspect more efficiently.”
Having K-9s at the base helps to deter crime, he said.
“We are a support element for the police force, such as being called to a domestic violence situation or to assist in searching a vehicle,” Ezzell said. “People are not afraid of people, but once they see an animal, the situation de-escalates. Criminals are more scared of facing our dogs, because of how proficient they are in detecting illegal substances and for locating suspects on the run.”
Officer Kristopher Evers, a working dog handler with the base’s provost marshal’s office, has been working with police dogs for many years. He said the bond between officer and dog instills trust in the team.
“Since 2001, I have been handling police dogs, including when I was prior service where I deployed to Afghanistan as military dog handler and worked at a sheriff’s office,” Evers said. “It’s more than a job — it’s a lifestyle. Coming into work Monday through Friday, you have a living being to take care of, and you end up bonding with them and they become your best friend.”
He said when not on patrol, he is training his dog, reinforcing everything it has learned and more.
“Training is constant — it’s a forever deal,” Evers said. “We have minimums to maintain, but in order to build the dog up, there has to be trust. The No. 1 learning curve is to have confidence in your partner and work as a team. Many days, I enjoy the company of my dog over people, which shows how strong of a bond you make with your best friend.”