K-9 Onyxx was presented with two award medals and certificates during the event at The American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog at Queeny Park in Ballwin, Mo.
Officer Mike Monticelli, K-9 Onyxx’s partner, was on hand to accept the awards and to place the medals around the canine’s neck. They have been paired together for the past six years and worked the two cases chosen for award recognition. Officer Monticelli has been with the Hazelwood police force since 1995 and he is currently assigned to the Special Operations Group, Traffic Management Team.
K-9 Onyxx was born in Czechoslovakia on Feb. 18, 2005. In 2006, he graduated from the St. Louis City K-9 Academy and began his service with the Hazelwood Police Department. A year later, he was certified with both the Missouri Police K-9 Association and the North American Police Work Dog Association. Onyxx is trained to detect narcotics, tracking, area search, building search, evidence recovery, and handler protection.
Two two awards presented to K-9 Onyxx were for Suspect Apprehension and Tracking. The first award was from an assist to another law enforcement agency, Country Club Hills Police Department. An armed robbery occurred at a business establishment on West Florissant Avenue and the suspect fled the scene on foot. Onyxx tracked the suspect for approximately one mile and went to a side door of a residence. After noticing the door was ajar, Officer Monticelli announced they were entering the premises. Warnings were given to the hiding suspect to give himself up or the K-9 would be released. For fear of being attacked by the K-9, the suspect allowed himself to be taken into custody. The suspect was wanted for several robbies and a probation violation.
A second award was given to Onyxx for his tracking efforts that led to two arrests in Hazelwood. Officer Monticelli and K-9 Onyxx interrupted a burglary in progress at 1006 Rosary Tree Lane involving two suspects. They saw the suspects flee the scene and Onyxx tracked the suspects toward St. Stanlislaus Seminary at 700 Howdershell Road. Onyxx followed the suspects into one of the buildings where they were hiding. They were apprehended without further incident. It was later revealed the suspects were wanted in connection with 11 burglaries committed in the Hazelwood and Florissant areas.
The HPD has another K-9 Chavier, which has been with the department for the same period of time. Like Onyxx, Chavier is certified every year with both the Missouri Police K-9 Association and the North American Police Work Dog Association. Chavier’s partner is Officer Brian Hale who’s been with the department for about 18 years and is a 1999 Medal of Valor recipient. Chavier is Officer Hale’s second K-9 partner. Paco was retired in 2006 after many years of dedicated service.
In 2011, K-9 Chavier received two awards from the National Police Canine Association for Narcotics Finds. The first award was the detection of a package of marijuana that was being shipped through UPS. It was sealed in shrink wrap and covered with mustard and coffee grounds to hid the odor. A second award was given to Chavier for one of the largest heroin finds in the Greater St. Louis area. The suspect’s vehicle traveled across the Mexican border with heroin hidden in two different areas of the engine compartment. He was able to detect the odor of the narcotics which went undetected by x-ray machines located at the U.S./Mexican border crossing.
During the week of Oct. 15-18, the HPD will be hosting a K-9 Drug Detection Enhancement Course provided by the Midwest Counterdrug Training Center (MCTC) which is based at the Fort Dodge military base in Iowa. The department’s K-9 Unit was successful in convincing MCTC to bring its training program to Hazelwood which will be attended by 19 different K-9 teams from all over the nation’s central region.
“We’ve been certifying Hazelwood’s police K-9s through this course provided by MCTC for several years,” said Lt. Mark McKeon, Hazelwood Police Department. “It involved having our K-9 teams travel to Iowa where they would be trained and certified. By bringing the training to our area, it not only helps the HPD reduce the cost and travel time needed to certify both Onyxx and Chavier, but also it benefits other local law enforcement agencies that have K-9 teams.”
This course is designed for the advanced training of drug detector dog and handler teams, which will help improve the team’s search ability and make them both more effective and efficient. It involves both classroom and practical exercise instruction. Two of the most highly respected experts in the field of Canine certification for narcotics will be the instructors. Their names are Jack Robichbaux and Leon Azylin. Both of them are retired as canine supervisors for police departments in the southern United States.
Classroom topics include the selection and training of dogs, search strategies and patterns, theory of odor dispersion, setting up training aid containers, training records, canine drives and communication, and case law. Practical exercises will include a variety of buildings and vehicles.