On Monday, December 6, 2010, Sheriff Grady Judd presented Deputy Sheriff D. Brett Hermelbracht and his K-9 partner Silvo with a Sheriff's Commendation recognizing their outstanding achievement in being the first K-9 team in the nation to complete a rigorous training presented by the North American Police Working Dogs Association (NAPWDA).
In March 2010, Brett and Silvo went to Perry, Florida, to attend an annual NAPWDA workshop. The association offers a "Tactical K-9 Instruction" class at all of their workshops across the country. The class consists of three increasingly difficult levels that over 130 canine teams from across the country have attempted to complete, without success.
Together, Deputy Hermelbracht and Silvo ran through the course, having never heard of it before, nor never having previously trained for it or competed in it. Level 1 consists of such tasks as carrying the dog 50 feet, working the dog in formation with other officers, and making the dog stay in place for 3 minutes while his handler is out of sight. They completed Level 1 with ease, and moved on to Level 2, which required Silvo to stay in place while his handler exchanged gunfire with a decoy, and other demonstrations of control.
After successfully completing Level 2, Brett and Silvo demonstrated during Level 3 what a great working relationship they have and the training and skills they have both developed throughout the past year that they have been partners. During Level 3, Silvo responded to hand commands only, and was required to stay in a down position for 5 minutes while his handler was out of his sight. During that 5 minutes, Silvo was exposed to such distractions as gunfire, being taunted with a toy, and other similarly distracting events. Once again, Brett and Silvo excelled.
Brett and Silvo are now the first team in the history of NAPWDA to complete all three levels of "Tactical K-9 Instruction" NAPWDA certification.
K-9 Silvo was part of a canine team with the Mulberry Police Department before PCSO began contracting for law enforcement services with the city of Mulberry. After a period of 18 months where he did not have a partner, he was then paired up with K-9 D/S Brett Hermelbracht. Silvo is Brett's second canine partner during his career as a K-9 deputy. Brett says that in the year they have been partners, he and Silvo have worked very hard and trained long hours to get Silvo back in shape for patrol duty. Clearly, they have demonstrated that they have a great working relationship, and are well-trained and well-equipped for whatever they may face on the streets of Polk County.
The Sheriff's Commendation, which was presented to D/S Hermelbracht reads, in part: "Over 130 canine teams from across the country have attempted to complete [this training], with no success. Your actions bring great pride to the Polk County Sheriff's Office and the Canine Unit. On behalf of the Executive Staff, your supervisors, and your peers, I commend you for your outstanding dedication and accomplishment" - Sheriff Grady Judd