Officer, drug dog deliver awareness to local schools

COVINGTON - Porterdale Police Sgt. Jason Cripps and his police dog Sgt. Beau take "man's best friend" to the next level.

Cripps and his certified narcotics dog are basically inseparable - Beau sleeps in bed with him and his wife every night, waits on him while he takes a shower, walks with him to the door every morning, rides around in the police car with him all day and for good measures sheds an ample portion of fur on his shoulder.

"He's my partner," Cripps said. "Every night I thank God for my dog."

Beau, a 5-year-old golden retriever, has been Cripps' partner since August 2008, soon after being donated to the Porterdale Police Department.

Since then, Beau has helped seize $220,000 at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport while working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, catch a suspect who recently burglarized the Newton County Water Authority and made several felony drug arrests and tracked individuals in Porterdale and Newton County.

"He's been very successful," Cripps said.

They also have completed thousands of training hours to become certified by the National Narcotic Detector Dog Association and the North American Police Work Dog Association. He's trained to track four odors - marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine - and tracks criminals, as well as missing persons and items.

"He's pretty amazing," Cripps said. "He's priceless."

When Beau isn't helping Cripps track down criminals, he helps him tell kids the importance of staying off drugs.

This week, the two went to several schools in Newton County as part of Red Ribbon Week to raise awareness about drug prevention efforts.

"(Drugs) will kill you," Cripps told a group of third graders at West Newton Elementary School Thursday. "They will do bad things to you."

Then he got the students to scream what they tell people about drugs - "NO!"

Afterward, Cripps showed students how Beau could find hidden drugs, and then students were allowed to pet and hug him.

"He's fantastic (with kids)," Cripps said. "He loves it."

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.