Of all the law enforcement tools that authorities used Thursday morning to apprehend a suspect after a long chase, a four-legged one with an excellent sniffer was invaluable.
His name is Bandit, a Belgian Malinois, or shepherd. Bandit looks similar to a German Shepherd, but his coat is much more reddish.
He and Officer Brandon Kramer form the K-9 Unit of the Mansfield Police Department.
Bandit used his training to find the suspect after he had crashed his Suburban through a barbed wire fence along U.S. Highway 67 west of the roadside park past the Brazos River bridge. The suspect then fled on foot and climbed up a tree.
Officer Kramer and Bandit, who have been working together for four years, were trained in Patrol and Narcotic Detection at Kasseburg Kennels in New Market, Ala. They are assigned to the Mansfield department's Patrol Division.
Kramer said that during Bandit's training, the instructors would hide people in trees.
"Someone would try to pretend he was the suspect," Kramer said. "The dog will walk around in circles" once he's discovered the scent.
The scent of someone up high falls down the tree and makes a pretty wide "scent cone," Kramer said.
Although Bandit has helped catch suspects before, this is the first time the police dog has actually found one in a tree, he added.
Bandit expertly followed his training. He detected the suspect's scent and walked around the tree in circle.
"It was pretty cool," Officer Kramer said.
It also helped lead to the suspect's capture.
"They tracked him pretty effectively," said Capt. Mike Gilbert with the Johnson County Sheriff's Department. "In this instance, it's hard to put a value on what they did."
Several dozen people posted their thanks to Bandit and Officer Kramer on the Reporter's Facebook page. If you'd like to add your thanks to the Facebook posts, we'll print out the comments and send them on to Bandit, Officer Kramer and the Mansfield Police Department.