NEWS- Going ballistic: K-9 cop gets vested

Officer Rico reported for duty last week. Sporting his new ballistic vest and bounding around as if unencumbered by the extra 12 to 14 pounds of protective Kevlar draped over his body, the canine officer and his partner, county police officer Andy Gluba, accepted the gear from the Albemarle Ruritans November 17.

The Ruritans feel a special connection to Albemarle's K-9 cops. Fifteen days after Gluba's previous partner, Ingo, was killed in the line of duty on October 24, 2004, the Ruritans made a $500 donation toward Ingo's replacement. "He saved Andy's life," explains Ruritan Ed Floyd.

The Ruritans decided that Rico– not to be confused with the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act– needed extra protection, and they ponied up $726.95 for the custom ballistic vest.

Gluba tested a lot of vests before settling on the one Rico sported at the presentation. "He's been clocked at 41mph," says Gluba. "I don't want to lose that."

Gluba also noted that Rico can jump nine feet in the air– high enough to soar over a police car. Even with his vest on, the three-year-old Belgian Malinois could barely contain his exuberance at the presentation. 

Unlike other Albemarle uniformed officers who must wear protective vests when on duty, Rico won't wear his all the time.

"Andy will try to anticipate" which situations call for the vest, explains Sergeant Peter Mainzer. "We absolutely consider Rico an officer."

But, no, Rico will not be issued a service pistol.

Police K-9 Rico leaps for joy in his new ballistic vest. The Belgian Malinois breed is described as "confident" by the American Kennel Club, quick to respond to its owner's commands and possessing a strong desire to work.

Officer Andy Gluba speaks Dutch to his partner, a Belgian Malinois.