The newest member of the Vinton Police Department is just two years old. He is a man in blue who wears a coat of black.
At 27, Stephen Foutz is one of the youngest officers in Vinton, and he really wanted a partner to help him out.
“Without question, he would lay his life down for me,” Foutz said. “I'm the only one who gets to go around with a partner all day, and he's just that. He's there to back me up if needed.”
No, Foutz's partner is no man -- he is man's best friend.
“If I go to work for my 12-hour shift, he's with me,” Foutz said.
Foutz always wanted a canine unit, and Jax is the first dog to serve for the Vinton Police Department.
The German Shepherd has only worked for two-and-a-half months, but Foutz already sees the benefits of having Jax around.
“Starting a police canine unit is a substantial investment but it's also one that can certainly pay off,” Foutz said. “The majority of what Jax's uses are is the narcotic side of things.”
Since late October when Jax started, Foutz has used him for 18 drug stops.
With the canine unit being so new, there are growing pains.
“We started from square one. It was a lot of work but it was rewarding to see it all pay off,” Foutz said.
As these partners have found out in their short time together, the payoff goes far beyond public service.
Because of Jax, Foutz does a lot more paperwork than most officers.
He says he has to keep logs of all the training exercises he does.
If Vinton police make an arrest, Foutz has to be able to prove in court that the dog is properly trained and is doing its job within the law, just like Foutz does.