K-9 Cop

Officer Darriun Moody is the newest K-9 officer at Savannah State University. His partner, Tina, is a 2-year-old German Shepard who specializes in drugs. 

This is a day in the life story about Officer Darriun Moody. During this time, I spent four days with Moody and Tina, the K-9, and was given the opportunity to see all that a campus police officer partakes in. All times are estimated.

“Tina means, she means friendship, a partner. She’s just a good spirit. She’s just like a daughter. I’ve never had a daughter, and just being there taking care of her, uhm playing with her, you know. She just means a lot to me and words can’t describe it.” Officer Darriun Moody describes his partner Tina as he looks in the back seat. “You’re a good girl! Yes you are!” Moody always gives Tina positive affirmations.

Moody is the newest K-9 officer at Savannah State University and Tina is his partner, a two-year-old German Shepard, who in dog years is a teenager and whose nose and teeth are her greatest assets. There are single and dual- purpose canines, with specializations ranging in bite, currency, drug, bomb, and tracking. Tina is a single-purpose dog, which means she only specializes in drugs.

Moody graduated from the Savannah Technical Police Academy ten months ago, and began working at SSU shortly after. With Lt. Brown as a strong mentor, Moody knew where he wanted to work to start his career and give him the strong foundation he desired.

Through hard-work, dedication, and proving that he could be a reliable asset to the Public Safety Department, he is accomplishing goals he did not anticipate in such a timely manner. This shows his willingness and determination to take on a task and fulfill it in all capacities.

Although Moody is an officer, he is also a student. Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s Moody has early morning classes and on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s he has class at 1:00 p.m. Being that he wears his uniform to class more often than not, he’s often asked how he feels or what he thinks about the situations going on in the media today about Blacks in America and the police. “I’m always put on the spot in class, because they do know that I am an officer. I think 

it’s unfortunate what is happening, but of course I see different angles being as though I have studied the law. I think it’s important for everyone to know their rights and what terms really mean. Like resistance for example, resistance is anything. It can even be grabbing an officer’s wrist or moving a certain way.”

Preparing for his 3:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. shift, Moody wakes up to his favorite cereal, Lucky Charms, and ESPN.  Tina roams around as Moody pieces his uniform together very meticulously and gets mentally prepared by asking himself, “How can I be better than I was yesterday?” and “What can I do today to make sure that I improve? I just want to make sure that things don’t escalate and I want to be a problem solver.”

Into briefing at the Public Safety Department, Moody and the entire shift is updated on what has transpired on the previous shift, posts, if anything needs to be barricaded, events taking place, and the possibilities to look out for. All vehicles needed gets checked out to any officer that is not already equipped with one, and after swapping greetings everyone parts ways that does not have a partner.

Whenever Moody is leaving the police car or is not in the direct sight of Tina, she barks… and she barks a fierce bark. It is her protective nature over her handler. On the way to police SUV, you can hear Tina barking before you see her or notice the SUV shaking from her jumping in excitement. She barks when someone is too close to the car or walking near the vehicle, when she senses something wrong, when she is in the cage, or of course, when she sees a cat.

On the other hand, Tina’s tail swishes left to right non-stop while her tongue hangs out her mouth when she is outside and running around, but Moody adds, “Nothing compares to her having her ball, and once Tina gets a hold of her tennis ball, it’s like war getting it back.”

At 3:00 p.m. looking both ways before pulling out of the Public Safety parking lot, Moody turns left to begin his perimeter check around the campus. Taking the long way through the streets and making sure to scan the creases and corners to make sure everything is in order.

Five minutes into the ride, Moody begins to explain every button in the patrol SUV and how it works, Moody hesitated and chose to elaborate on the heat panel. The heat panel is new to his SUV and is designed to keep track of the temperature in the vehicle, even when the K-9 officer is not around.

If Tina is in the car and the temperature is too high, the heat panel will activate all of the power windows to roll down and the fans will be switched on, all while he is being notified by the system.

Moody checks on Tina continuously and it has become second nature to him. Spending time with Tina, and even coming back from an intensive, two-week training period in Daytona Beach, has allowed the two to become closer than one would expect. Upon completion of K-9 training, Moody received his AMK9 Law Enforcement Certification of completing an 80-hour training in his drug detection K9 handler course. “They molded and taught me everything I didn’t know, because before I went I didn’t know anything. Before I left for training, I had Tina for a month and so I just took care of her from common sense before learning how to utilize her to her full potential.”

Moody has even picked up on Tina’s facial expressions and body language. “I know when she’s exhausted, hungry, about to poop, and even confused. When she gets confused, she hangs her mouth open and tilts her head slightly. You don’t believe me? Actually, hey watch this.” As he turns around to a calm Tina in the backseat lying down, she picks her head up without hesitation. Moody says quietly, “Hey Tina do you know what I’m saying girl? Huh? Huh?” Tina does just that and he breaks out in laughter, “See, I told you.”

Moody often stops every 20 to 30 minutes in order for Tina to get out and run around. As they wrestle and run around together, their bond is undeniable. Seeing them interact, you would never guess that when Moody applied he was hesitant. However, he knew that he always had a passion for law enforcement and dogs, so mixing the two seemed like to be a good fit. “I was actually uncertain because I didn’t know how we would mix together, but after two days I just knew. Tina is a very smart dog and a good partner.”

Loving isn’t generally an adjective that is assumed when initially thinking of a police dog and its handler, however that is exactly what was filling the atmosphere during the ride-along for two days. “Even though she’s tough, she’s a baby. She’s my baby. She has her moments when she needs to be picked up and I’m here to carry her, but she also knows that when it’s time to work, what time it is too.”

Parking his vehicle around 5:17 p.m., Moody just finished his fourth perimeter check of his shift. When asked why he wanted to be a police officer, “I want to keep people safe.” Pausing, “It’s because of my mom. It wasn’t fair how she passed away and so that’s how I knew.” Moody’s biological mother passed away on the operating table during his C-section. The doctor accidentally cut the wrong vein while rushing because of his personal life and faced no prosecution. Growing older this sparked his willingness to bring justice and keep people safe.

Around 7:00 p.m. Moody eats dinner, because of the demand of caring for Tina and answering calls whenever something arises on campus. By this time Moody’s stomach growled and he knew he couldn’t put off eating any longer and headed to Firehouse Subs, “You know, I worked at Five Guys for years, I had a dope boy car and dreads. Then I just decided I didn’t want that lifestyle anymore. I wanted more out of life.” Looking in the back cage to check on Tina, “I actually want to have my own sports bar. Nothing run down, just real nice and everything.” His voice eludes his passion for his unforgotten dreams.

Standing at the LaRoche gate with the security guard checking for marijuana and traffic violations is what seems to take up the last couple of hours of Moody’s shift. Lawfully, if there is suspicion of marijuana in the car, Tina can do a perimeter check and if it is detected an officer has the right to search the vehicle.

During briefing in between the alternating shifts, reports are given and then it’s time to depart and wind down from the day. Walking back to the K-9 vehicle at 10:53 p.m., Moody says byes to his co-workers and heads home. Sitting down in vehicle and rubbing his face with his hands he sits up and backs out of the parking lot. Looking back to check on Tina, “It’s time to go home mama.”

Moody winds down by feeding Tina, showering, possibly grabbing a snack depending on his hunger level, and climbing in bed. Tina sleeps next to him on her bed and the two fall asleep a little after midnight.

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