GENEVA COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - The Geneva County Sheriff's Office has a new member on the force - Maverick the K-9. He is the first dog with the department since the 1980s.
The department hopes with Maverick on the team it will help address two concerning trends in the community.
"We have a lot of elderly people and children who walk off. He's a tracking canine with narcotics and we also have a narcotics problem," said Casey Fink, Deputy with Geneva County's Sheriff's Office.
Maverick has only been with the department for three months and he's already helped make a methamphetamine drug bust during a traffic stop, and helped in the multi-county manhunt for escaped inmate Roger Dale Hall.
The sheriff says before, in search operations they would have to call for assistance from surrounding counties like Houston and Covington.
"We've had great help from other departments with their canine units, but it might be 35 or 40 minutes to an hour before they can get to the scene," said Sheriff Tony Helms.
Helms says with Maverick, that time could almost be cut in half.
The sheriff says Maverick is an essential part of their department, but this wouldn't have been possible without the donations of people in the county because the department couldn't afford the nearly $6,000 to get a dog.
The Geneva County Republican Party got the ball rolling in funding the dog by donating $3,000. Sysco Food Services matched that donation and the rest came from locals.
"We've taken donations. Some as low as $20 and some as high as $100. Our citizens helped us out," said Helms.
In a statement, the Geneva County Republican Party said, "We made this $3,000 contribution because we felt like there was a need to help with search-and-rescue efforts in Geneva County. We will likely make another donation to the sheriff's office toward these efforts in the future."
Right now, Maverick is the only law enforcement dog servicing Geneva County. The sheriff hopes to add another dog to the force to serve the community.
"Our hope is that if this works good, we can find the money and add to our canine unit so we'll have one for the east and west end," said Helms.
Helms says the department is still collecting donations to pay for items needed for Maverick. If you are interested in donating, you can d rop off money at the sheriff's office.