By Andre Gonzales, AA/Public Information Officer
California Medical Facility
A California Medical Facility Correctional Officer credited with helping shape the state’s K-9 program recently received praise for his dedication.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation K-9 Officer Brian Pyle was recognized during the Rotary Club of Solano County’s 23rd annual Law Enforcement Recognition Night in Fairfield on Oct. 17.
Officer Pyle began his career with CDCR in June 1995 at Pleasant Valley State Prison. In August 2009, he was selected as a K-9 Officer and paired with his new partner, Drako. They were one of the first canine teams created as part of a pilot program using dogs to detect cellular telephones within CDCR institutions.
Path to becoming a K-9 officer
Drako’s path to CDCR wasn’t smooth.
A well-respected breeder from Temecula had originally sold Drako to a K-9 trainer in the mid-west when the dog was approximately a year old. Drako’s new owner confined him to a kennel crate for months on end, resulting in Drako’s front paws became disfigured due to the lack of exercise.
When Drako’s breeder learned one of her dogs was being mistreated, she immediately retrieved him and started nursing him back to health.
Having heard of the CDCR pilot project, she contacted CDCR K-9 coordinator Sgt. Wayne Conrad because she believed Drako would make a good addition to the program.
After meeting with Sgt. Conrad and learning more about the pilot project, the breeder was so impressed she decided to donate Drako to the department free of charge.
Partnership was meant to be
When Officer Pyle was first introduced to his four-legged partner, Drako immediately started licking Officer Pyle’s face and the two have been inseparable ever since.
With Officer Pyle’s leadership, they embarked on several weeks of vigorous training. From the first day of training, Drako took off like a rocket, and has not slowed down since. The training courses certified Drako to detect the odors of both tobacco and cell phones. Due to the team’s achievements, they again attended an additional four weeks of training and were certified to detect the additional odors of marijuana, heroin and cocaine.
“Officer Pyle is extremely motivated and dedicated to his K-9 duties. He is a valuable asset to CMF, his work ethic and determination is something to be admired,” said CMF acting Warden Robert W. Fox. “Additionally, Officer Pyle dedicates time out of his busy schedule to be a valued representative at countless schools and recruiting events throughout the state.”
Sgt. Conrad said they are an impressive team.
“Officer Pyle and Drako have achieved success, which has been unmatched by any K-9 team I have witnessed in over 40 years of training law enforcement K-9 teams,” said Sgt. Conrad, CDCR’s statewide K-9 coordinator.
By the numbers
Drako has sniffed out the following contraband in various CDCR institutions:
- 1,000 cellular telephones
- 543 pounds of tobacco
- 25 pounds of marijuana
- 25 pounds of methamphetamine
- 5 ounces of heroin
- 5 ounces of honey oil “wax”
With outside law enforcement agencies:
- 800 pounds of marijuana
- Over 5 pounds of methamphetamine
Dedication to the job
Officer Pyle has been instrumental with the development of the department’s K-9 program not only at CMF, but statewide. More recently, Officer Pyle volunteered to give up the majority of his summer to attend training in Pennsylvania.
He subsequently returned with three new dogs which require feeding, exercise and cleaning up after daily. Officer Pyle took on this task without hesitation.