The Texas A&M University Police Department has welcomed its newest officer. His speciality is detecting bombs, and all he requires in return is a rubber chew toy.
K-9 officer Mays joins the UPD force thanks to a $12,500 donation from students and the efforts of the nonprofit K9s4COPs.
In fall 2017, students in lecturer Kyle Gammenthaler’s strategic philanthropy class in Texas A&M’s Mays Business School were selecting charitable organizations to receive donations.
K9s4COPs applied to receive a grant from the students, which was awarded in December 2017. The funds would allow the organization to acquire a police dog for a local agency.
K9s4COPs managing director Kristin Brown said the charity foundation was aware that UPD officers wanted to add another explosives-detecting dog to their arsenal, which already included Jackie and Tyson, two K9s4COPs-gifted animals.
“Especially with the campus being so big, you want to have as much police K-9 presence available as possible,” Brown said.
The $12,500 covered the expense of purchasing a new dog from Liberty Hill training organization Pacesetter K9, who had acquired the German Shepherd-Belgian Malinois hybrid as a puppy from Poland. The company trained this dog into adulthood for explosives detection, and with the remainder of $12,500, a UPD officer was sent to Liberty Hill in February for three weeks of in-person training with the dog.
The dog, now almost 2, was named “Mays” after the students and faculty of the Mays Business School. The only expense to UPD was modifications to a patrol car for travel with Mays, Brown said.
UPD officer Cody Clemens was selected late last year out of a list of candidates to serve as Mays’ handler. Following his three weeks of training in Liberty Hill in February, Clemens immediately went to work with Mays on campus.
“He is a sweetheart,” the officer of 19 years said. “He has a good, sweet face to him, though looks can be deceiving. He’s not always friendly. He’s not mean, he’s not trained to bite people. But he’s just very protective of me and doesn’t trust everybody.”
Though it took a little time, Mays formed a special bond with Clemens and now is close with his partner. The two will spend their days patrolling major campus functions such as sporting events, searching for items that might threaten the public’s safety. The team also has secured areas on campus for dignitaries visiting the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. It was Clemens and Mays who helped ensure that no explosives were nearby when Vice President Mike Pence came to visit earlier this year.
Clemens noted that Mays is obsessed with performing his police duties, sometimes excitedly pushing himself to the point of exhaustion trying to search for explosives.
“He lives for his reward, which is a rubber Kong toy,” Clemens said. “And he lives for making Daddy happy.”
Before partnering with Mays, Clemens hadn’t had much experience working with dogs other than playing with his own pets, but he felt called to leave the detective position he’d held for four years.
“I wanted to become a K-9 officer because the idea of working with a dog sounded fantastic, and the fact that this is an explosives detection dog that would help keep the students safe — I really wanted to do that,” he said. “I had been in the Marine Corps and have seen what explosives do to people.”
Brown said K9s4COPs administrators are thankful the UPD police chief and Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp gave them the opportunity to bring Mays to the police force.
“We are very excited about school safety,” she said. “The school needs to be protected, and we are excited to be a part of protecting the students, staff and visitors, preventing a dangerous situation.”
K9s4Cops funds the training and acquisition of working dogs for police departments all over the world. For more information, visit k9s4cops.org.