St. Clair Township hopes attraction to out-of-area drug sales dulled due to dueling drug dogs
CALCUTTA –As K9 Axel reaches the downside of his career, his handler Christopher Davis is just reaching the pinnacle of his.
Davis, who has been at St. Clair Township Police Department for almost seven years, wanted to give back to his hometown, so he joined the force. “I was born and raised here and I wanted to serve the community that I grew up in,” he explained.
After being hired in 2001 as a part-time patrolman, he became a full-time police officer in 2005 and was partnered with Axel in 2012.
Don’t let the community’s rural feel fool you.
Always interested in drug interdiction, Davis frequently encountered drugs on patrol thus Axel was a good fit. “Drug dealers frequently would come from outside the area and prey on the residents, especially with cocaine and heroin.”
However, they found that difficult with Axel providing the law enforcement assist. In addition to conducting building and area searchers, the Shallow Creek Kennels’ alumni also found himself tasked with handler protector when need be.
The 1978 East Liverpool graduate, who was teamed with the 8-year-old Belgian Malinois, joined the police academy shortly after leaving Homer Laughlin China. He acknowledged that this may be Axel’s last year, especially since Ptl. Joshua Jackson has a second K9 in his German Shepherd that just celebrated his first anniversary in April.
Police Chief Bryan McKenzie confirmed that he, as a former K9 handler himself, leaves the decision on retiring a dog up to the handler. “Davis does a lot of demonstration for area organizations and is a good, multifaceted officer,” he explains, adding that he trusts his instincts as someone who is a state certifier for K9 officers. “I retired my K9 (who preceded Davis’ for St. Clair), when he lost that drive. Currently with two dogs, I hope for a good transition with the time comes.”
Davis said that between K9 officers Axel and Noras, drugs valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars have been intercepted from area streets. He especially prides himself on the fact that the Axel is the community’s dog, paid for and provided by the community. “I don’t care who you are. You are affected by the drug use,” he said.
Despite recent area encounters with drugs like fentanyl, Davis still believes this a good place to raise a family. “The people here step up here. This community always has been good to us, and we try to do the same,” he concluded.