Veteran K-9 officer retiring
by Wes Mayer
After 10 years of distinguished service, Max is retiring.
Max, a 13-year-old Belgian Malinois, has spent most of his life serving law enforcement as part of a K-9 narcotics unit with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office. Max started his career in June 2004, and he spent almost all that time working alongside his partner, Sgt. Bryan Hutchins, here in Coweta.
“I’m his first handler, and he was my first dog,” Hutchins said, “and we hit it off right away. He is an excellent, excellent K-9.”
Max has a long list of distinguishable accomplishments, and, looking back, Hutchins could think of a few impressive drug seizures for which Max could be credited. Awhile back, Hutchins remembered Max was able to help located 65 kilograms, about 143 pounds, of cocaine during a traffic stop on I-85. In January 2010, Max also helped Fairburn Police officers locate 30 pounds of marijuana, and later Max sniffed out an 11-pound stash of marijuana during a traffic stop near mile marker 53 on I-85.
Hutchins said he wouldn’t even know where to begin estimating the number of small narcotics seizures, from one to three pounds, that could be attributed to Max. Throughout his career, Max not only worked for the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office, but many surrounding agencies as well — Max is responsible for a large number of seizures assisting the Newnan Police Department, the Heard County Sheriff’s Office, the Franklin Police Department, the Fairburn Police Department and the West Georgia Task Force.
Hutchins also noted Max is the only K-9 ever assigned to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic — Hutchins said they were assigned to HEAT in 2005. Another title Max holds is Top Dog at Mantracker 2011, the annual public safety training conference hosted by the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office. For the title, Max outperformed K-9 units from numerous agencies and jurisdictions.
“I believe, and I think most of our officers would agree, that Max is one of the best dogs we have,” said Coweta County Sheriff Mike Yeager. “He is not only good at what he does, but he’s a good ambassador. We could take him anywhere.”
When Max wasn’t on duty detecting narcotics, he spent his time visiting schools and events, demonstrating his talents for children and adults throughout Coweta and Heard counties, Hutchins said.
“He is very good with kids, and all the kids love him,” Hutchins said. “I don’t think he’s ever even growled.”
Max grew up in Hutchins’ home, and he’s definitely a part of the family, Hutchins said. Max and Hutchins were only separated from late 2007 to early 2009 when Hutchins served as a military police officer in Iraq.
Hutchins said while he was stationed at Forward Operating Base Camp Bucca in southern Iraq, Max was turned over to handler Lena Moore with the sheriff’s office. When Hutchins returned, the two were immediately reunited, and within the first couple of weeks, Max assisted Fairburn police in locating a 30-pound stash of marijuana.
Because Max is still in good health, he will continue to spend some time demonstrating for schools and events. As of this week, though, having served the full 10 years, Max has officially retired from narcotics.
“I’m going to miss doing those duties with him,” Hutchins said. “He is the best partner I’ve ever had.”