TOLEDO, Ohio (13abc Action News) – Officer Michael Garcia and canine Zola are an inseparable duo working to keep Toledo safe.
“We assist street crews, our vice narcotics group, our gang task force,” said Officer Garcia.
The pair is one of 10 canine units in Toledo’s police department. Tuesday, their work was on display for all to see with a ‘virtual ride along’ on social media.
“We do a lot vehicle sniffs,” said Garcia. “We will go on search warrants, but anything you can use a dog for.”
TPD previously offered ‘virtual ride alongs’ with the Gang Task Force and Field Operations.
After canines like Zola helped with more than 800 arrests last year alone, Chief George Kral says the department wanted to showcase their work.
“These dogs are worth their weight,” said Chief Kral. “They’ve taken tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of drugs and money off of the streets.”
For Officer Garcia, Zola is comparable to a human partner, but the 5-year-old Shepard-Malinois also brings some special skills to the streets.
“The dog’s nose is so much stronger than a human’s nose,” said Garcia. “A dog like Zola, she can pick up that scent, alert on the door, start scratching, barking letting you know that, ‘Hey, there’s somebody in there,’ so now you can take more of a tactical approach.”
While their teamwork was only showcased for a day, Chief Kral hopes the ‘virtual ride alongs’ help Toledoans better understand what his officers do to keep the city safe.
“We’re trying to increase the relationship and the cooperation and the trust level,” said Kral. “It’s our way of showing that we need the community to help police this city and this is just another way to help us.”
You can go back and view pictures and videos from the pair’s ‘virtual ride along’ by using #RideAlong419 on Twitter and Instagram.