PORT NECHES, Texas — The one and only K9 officer of the Port Neches Police Department is hanging up his harness.
Officer Rico has been on the force for the past eight years.
Sergeant Eric Heilman has been Rico's handler for seven of those years. The sergeant describes his time with Rico as very rewarding.
For Sgt. Heilman and Rico, keeping the city safe took a lot of hard work and was a huge commitment a lot of time.
“But there's no better feeling than when somebody's trying to get away and you use a living breathing thing to go find it," said Heilman.
Residents and officers came out Thursday to show their support and appreciation for Rico. The K9 has quite the record.
Rico was deployed 114 times, caught almost 8,000 grams of meth and has retrieved more than $450,000.
Sgt. Heilman said Rico lives for the job. Whenever Rico isn’t chasing suspects, he’s making rounds in the community.
William and Deanna Albrecht are Rico's biggest fans.
"I want to be a K9 unit when I grow up. I'm going to follow in sergeant Heilman’s footsteps," said William Albrecht.
Rico left his celebration with bags of doggy treats and tennis balls, ready to start his retirement. His last shift with the department is Friday, January 6, 2023.
Rico is going to be a porch dog from now on.
"He's going to be able to run and do whatever he wants to do when he wants to do it," said Heilman.
Sgt. Heilman will soon meet his new canine partner, a 1-year-old puppy. He will train the puppy and bring the new officer back to the Port Neches Police Department.