Working Dog Wednesday: a Brief Interview With Pflugerville Police Department
Winter weather got you down? A photo spread with a trio of hardworking K9s is the perfect break for a busy season. So grab a cup of coffee (or a mug of tea) and join us as we visit with Public Information Officer Sara Bustilloz and Civilian Director Officer Billy Gibbens of the Pflugerville Police Department. Pflugerville PD took 5th place honors in this year’s Aftermath K9 Grant competition. The officers spoke with Aftermath earlier this month about their department and the team’s (very photogenic) K9 unit.
Pflugerville is a mid-sized town of about 60,000 people. “We are right next to Austin so we are kind of a bedroom community for the city. Many people live here and work in Austin since our town is only 13 miles away.” PIO Bustilloz added that the community is very “tight-knit, with a small town feel.”
The town’s location has led to rapid growth, and the department has had to adapt to see to the needs of the local area. “Chief Jessica Robledo moved to our Department from Austin PD in February,” reported Civilian Director Officer Gibbens. “Chief Robledo has helped our department maintain its small-town mentality, while continuing to be service minded and providing us with the knowledge to understand any big city problems that come our way. Her leadership is a big reason why we have so much support from the community.”
Like other growing towns, Pflugerville has seen an increase in theft and similar issues. “We deal with a lot of property crime,” PIO Bustilloz reported. “We need to educate the community to protect their valuables, and we believe that the best way to do this is by utilizing social media to connect with community members.”
Social media is also what led the department to a 5th place award in Aftermath’s K9 Grant Competition this year. Lt. Bill Anderson was credited with noticing the grant on Facebook; he brought it to the department’s attention with the hopes of helping the department’s K9 unit. “In response, we beefed up our social media presence to get the word out to the community to vote for us,” said PIO Bustilloz. The results were very successful!
Pflugerville’s K9 unit consists of three dogs and their handlers. Inka is a 9-year-old Belgian Malinois assigned to Pflugerville’s Street Response Unit as a narcotics detection K9. She has been integral to significant arrests for the Pflugerville Police Department and partnering agencies. Isa is a 3.5-year-old German Shepherd and although she was originally trained as a narcotics detection K9, she recently graduated from tracking and trailing training. She is very sociable, but extremely driven and high energy.
Scorpio is an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois trained in the detection of various narcotics and human tracking. He is originally from Europe, and spent a short time training in Mexico. Scorpio loves to work, and will do absolutely anything for a tennis ball and to please his handler.
PIO Bustilloz said that the department has decided the grant money will be used to purchase an upgraded alert and deployment system for one of the K9 units.
Every year in October, Aftermath goes to the dogs with the Aftermath K9 Grant Competition. This year, a total of over $16,500 was awarded to law enforcement agencies located nationwide. Aftermath recognizes the benefits a K9 unit provides to a community, and the annual grant was created to help offset the cost of maintaining these valuable programs.