Bartow Police Department's first K-9 Unit was established in 1972 under the direction of Police Chief Marvin Pittman.
By 1973 the Unit had a total of three dogs, all had been donated. However, in 1976 the program was disbanded.
In 1994, a young patrol officer, with a desire to develop a productive K-9 Unit, trained and worked diligently, with his newly purchased four legged partner Nero, to re-establish this worthy program. That officer, Gerad Hunt, who is now a Sergeant, continues to be a strong advocate for the Bartow Police Department’s K-9 Unit.
In 2002, after eight (8) years of active duty, K-9 Nero retired from service. Shown here with Sgt. Hunt receiving recognition from Chief Eric Sandvik.
The K-9 teams are assigned to Patrol Division, These teams assist the Patrol Division with searching buildings, searching for lost or missing persons, evidence recovery, narcotic searches, and crowd control. In addition, K-9 teams are utilized as backup officers for officer safety.
OFFICER MICHELLE SMITH
Officer Smith started working at Bartow Police Department in August 2001. She holds an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice from Polk Community College and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Kaplan University.
Throughout her career as a K-9 Officer, Michelle has won numerous Commendations, and Regional and National Awards for K-9 Competitions and a Lifesaving Award with both her previous K-9 partner, Vegas (now retired) and her current partner, Hasj.
She and her K-9 Partner Hasj, patrol on Bravo Squad. She is a member of NAPWDA North American Police Work Dog Association and the USPCA (United States Police Canine Association.
Officer Smith is very active in the community, serves as President of Polk County 4-H Horse Council, and is a volunteer for Foster for Second Chance Boxer Rescue
OFFICER JOHN ZORN
Officer John Zorn began his career with Bartow Police Department in August 2004, working in the Patrol Division. He and his partner Flash graduated from K-9 Training in May 2015. Officer Zorn is currently assigned to Alpha Squad.
OFFICER DAVID BILBREY
Officer Bilbrey began his career at Bartow Police Department in 2001 working as a Public Safety Aide. After working his way through Police Standards, he eventually become a sworn police officer, with hopes to one day be a K-9 Handler.After several years working in the Patrol Division, Detective Bureau, and Community Services Team, when a position opened up in the K-9 Unit he was excited to be selected to fill the position.
Officer Bilbrey and his partner Brody are currently assigned to the Patrol Division.
OFFICER ARTURO GONZALEZ
Officer Gonzalez began his career at Bartow Police Department in December 2012. Officer Gonzales and his partner Rico recently graduated from training, and are assigned to the Patrol Division
All four of the K-9 teams are available to perform public K-9 demonstrations for the citizens of Bartow. The Community Services Division handles the scheduling of the demonstrations upon request from the public. Demonstrations are provided to schools, day-care centers, civic groups, community events, holiday events, business promotions and churches. The K-9 teams average 25 to 35 demonstrations per year for the community.
Call 863-534-5034 or email Lyn Bryan, CST Coordinator to schedule K-9 Demonstrations.