Mandeville Police Department names K-9 recruit in honor of fallen Capt. Vince Liberto
MANDEVILLE, La.- Mandeville Police Capt. Vince Liberto died in the line of duty in September. A new police officer is helping preserve his legacy, the first K-9 member of the Mandeville Police Department family in more than five years has been named "Vinnie."
“Knowing that another Vinnie is in Mandeville, working with the community and visiting kids, is so special,” Widow Tracey Liberto said.
Tracey and her 3-year-old grandson were able to meet the K-9 Vinnie recently.
“He was all personality, he kind of reminded me of Vince,” she said.
Liberto said she appreciated that Mandeville Police Chief Gerald Sticker asked for her blessing before making the dog Vince Liberto's namesake, according to nola.com
“Of course, I asked my children and we all agreed that it was a wonderful idea," Liberto said.
Chief Sticker said the entire department was pleased to hear the new officer would be named after Capt. Liberto.
“We are a small department and we are very close. This is such a fitting way to memorialize him,” Sticker said. “We are going to make sure that he is not forgotten.”
Liberto served with the Mandeville Police Department for 25 years and the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office for five years. He was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the FBI National Academy.
Reserve Patrolman Bobby Marx, who has worked for 34 years as a K-9 officer, serves as Vinnie’s handler. He said he has already created a special bond with Vinnie after training with him in Lafayette and living and working with him for just a few months.
Vinnie is a 2-year-old male Belgian Malinois and was a gift from Mandeville resident Judith Fos Burrus. He has rare coloring for his breed, all black with a small patch of tan.
Marx said Vinnie is playful but is eager to work. “He sees the uniform and knows what that means He gets right to business.”
Native of The Netherlands, Vinnie does not respond to English commands yet. Marx has learned to train and work with Vinnie in Dutch. Marx says this is a common task for K-9 handlers.
Vinnie will assist with criminal patrol operations and investigations where drug activity is suspected. Marks says Vinnie will provide great service during narcotics investigations.
“A vehicle can drive away with evidence, but if a dog picks up a scent and gives a signal, we have probable cause to search,” he said. “It can make all the difference in a case. I have had dogs that found drugs buried in the trash under all sorts of things. It is amazing what they can do.”
Sticker said Vinnie provides an instant uplifting vibe to the Police Department.
“Having a K-9 officer is great for morale. He will become like a mascot,” he said.
Sticker also says that Vinnie will make public relations appearances at schools and to civic organizations and nonprofit groups throughout the area.
Tracey Liberto says the presence of K-9 Vinnie carrying on this legacy is an idea her husband would have loved, especially bringing his uplifting spirits to schools and student groups.
Since Capt. Vincent Liberto's death, Tracey says several people have expressed that her husband's kindness and compassion kept them on the right path.
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