Union Democrat Staff

The Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office added a K9 to the patrol unit this week, the agency announced in a news release.

Maverick, an 18-month-old Belgian Malinois and Shepherd mix from the Czech Republic, and his handler, Deputy Terry Knapp, finished an eight-week basic-handler course last week. They’re certified in obedience, patrol and detection, the release said.

The K9 will join Beau and Zeus, two who joined last year, and Hans on the force.

The K9 unit focuses on critical obedience, suspect apprehension and narcotics detection and is often a heavily relied upon member of an investigating team.

K9 Justice, who was considered the face of the K9 unit because of the large number of community events he was taken to, retired at the end of last year.

Justice came to Tuolumne County in 2008 and allowed the Sheriff’s Office to resurrect the K9 program. He had worked in Mexico and Arkansas before and, in all, put in 10 years in law enforcement.

Justice’s trainer at Top Dog Police K-9 Training and Consulting recommended retirement after noticing Justice beginning to slow down and limp after a training exercise.