PCSO deputy sheriffs and detention deputies utilize the latest technology and routinely attend training classes to keep Polk County’s crime rate at an all-time low, and improve the quality of life for Polk County’s citizens. In addition to the deputies on the streets and in the jails, the agency has twenty-two K-9 teams. These dedicated dogs and their handlers track suspects and missing persons and are able to detect the presence of narcotics. The majority of the
PCSO K-9 teams are dual-purpose, working narcotics and patrol, while two dogs are assigned strictly to the undercover narcotics unit. Four dogs are also cross-trained in explosives detection.
This week alone, two capable canines proved how priceless their training and presence are when both were instrumental in apprehending three suspects during two different incidents on the same day.
On Wednesday, January 27, 2011, just before 4:00 p.m., the K-9 team comprised of Master Deputy Sheriff Joseph “Jody” Gill and his shepherd partner, Shea, were dispatched to a burglary in progress on Chestnut Road in Lakeland. When the K-9 team arrived at the victim’s home, the victim was standing in the front yard and reported to D/S Gill that someone was trying to break into his home at the rear of the home.
D/S Gill then saw a white male suspect running behind the house, jumping over a nearby fence. D/S Gill released Shea, who immediately pursued the suspect while D/S Gill ordered the suspect to surrender. The suspect, who was approximately 100 yards away, stopped running, and Shea, under D/S Gill’s voice command, heeled and sat, barking at the suspect. D/S Gill instructed the suspect to place his hands in the air and walk back towards him. The suspect complied.
D/S Gill then drew his attention back to the residence where the in-progress burglary occurred, and noticed a second suspect also following his commands – he had his hands in the air and was walking towards D/S Gill and K-9 Shea. Both suspects were taken into custody without incident, and charged with Attempted Burglary. Both told D/S Gill that they surrendered and walked back to him because they “heard the dog barking and knew what that meant.”
“That’s what I call two for the price of one,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. “Although these suspects were bold enough to attempt to illegally enter someone’s home, they were smart enough to obey the deputy’s commands or risk being apprehended by a trained canine.”
Later that same evening, the Lakeland Police Department requested assistance from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in an armed kidnapping case when it was determined after an hour and a half that the crime originated in unincorporated Polk County.
According to the adult male witness, a 16-year-old girl (PCSO is not releasing her name because of her age and the nature of the crime) was forcibly taken at knifepoint from his car on the roadway in front of Lake Gibson High School in Lakeland around 7:30 p.m., by a known suspect, 19-year-old Joey Davidson. When the witness tried to intervene and prevent the kidnapping of the girl, Davidson sprayed him with “Mace” and threatened him with the knife. Davidson then dragged the girl behind a nearby church. The witness called law enforcement.
PCSO deputies responded at 9:00 p.m. after LPD requested their assistance. Deputy Sheriff C.J. Russell and his bloodhound partner, Diego, immediately began a track to determine the whereabouts of the suspect and the innocent victim, beginning at where the crime first occurred. Diego tracked to a vacant residence on Vineyard Drive, approximately 1.5 miles from where the abduction occurred. Deputies entered the home and found the suspect holding the victim against her will in the bathroom of the home.
Deputies placed Joey Davidson, DOB 8/14/91, of 1273 Miller Avenue in Winter Park, under arrest for Kidnapping, Assault With a Deadly Weapon, Resisting Arrest, and Battery. Deputies also verified that Davidson had been arrested on December 20, 2010, for the same charges against the same victim, who is his ex-girlfriend.
“Twice in the same day, our loyal and dedicated canines proved how invaluable their skills are,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. “A victim of an attack and kidnapping is now safely in her home, while her attacker is behind bars where he belongs – and it was all due to the nose of a bloodhound. These four-legged law enforcement officers are a priceless asset to our agency.”