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Dios, UM’s new K-9 Cop, to be sworn in Sept. 6

By Michael Newsom

University of Mississippi

The University of Mississippi Police Department is getting a well-trained, sociable new officer, but this one isn’t typical. He has four feet, is covered in fur and is only a year old.

Dios, the university’s new K-9 officer, will be sworn in at a campus ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 6 in the Lyceum. The Belgian Malinois from Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Indiana, was certified Aug. 12 and is already working on campus.

University Police K9 Dios greets students during Coffee with a Cop on the Union plaza. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

University Police K9 Dios greets students during Coffee with a Cop on the Union plaza. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

He can handle tight spaces and large crowds, is sociable and has expert detection skills. The dog will spend about 80 percent of its time working with the community with his designated handler, Officer Justin Watson, UPD Chief Tim Potts said. Only about 20 percent of Dios’ time will be spent on training and response to police calls.

“As far as our department, we are excited for the K-9 team to return to campus,” Potts said. “While Dios will certainly provide the ability to detect narcotics where humans fail, Dios and Officer Watson will do so much more for the university.

“They will provide demonstrations and programming to our community and help to further develop the bond between our department and our community.”

The team plans presentations for the Ole Miss Department of Student Housing, as well as any other campus groups that want to learn more about the team and what it offers campus.

Dios and his handler will work Tuesday-Friday from 3 p.m. to midnight or 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., which is a different shift than any other UPD officer, and will also work some weekends.

The university developed a new policy on how the K-9 team will be used in residence halls, which includes collaboration with the Department of Student Housing and the university’s general counsel. The team also works with fraternities and sororities when requested.

University Police K9 Dios greets students during Coffee with a Cop on the Union plaza. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

University Police K9 Dios greets students during Coffee with a Cop on the Union plaza. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Dios answers all drug complaints while on duty, and will be used to help assist the Oxford Police Department and the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office. Routine patrols though the housing wings where students live are not planned at this time.

If a complaint is received, the K-9 unit will proceed to that specific location, but if Dios detects something on the property in another location, it will be noted and he will return after an initial investigation is complete.

The dog will visit residence hall lobbies on a frequent basis, Potts said.

The new K-9 officer will also be used during athletics events, but not for crowd control. Rather, he will be used only for detecting contraband.

Dios was purchased and trained with $17,285 from Ole Miss Family Leadership Council funds. He should be a valuable educational ambassador to students on behalf of UPD, said Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs.

“Students will be drawn to him, then, in the process of interacting with him they will have the opportunity to learn about our campus polices related to drugs,” Hephner LaBanc said. “The core of UPD’s mission is to enhance safety – that begins with knowledge.

“Dios will provide a unique opportunity for his handler and other officers to talk with students about the dangers of drug use.”