RICE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — There’s a new weapon in the fight against crime in Luzerne County, and it will soon hit the streets. A police K-9 unit will help keep the public safe in the Mountain Top area.

It is the first police K-9 unit in that part of Luzerne County, and some folks say it comes at a time when big-city-type crimes, namely drug-related crimes are on the rise.

Maverick is a two-year-old Shepard Malinois hybrid, and his partner is Rice Township Police Officer Brian Stout.

“The big thing with him. He’s narcotics detection as well as a patrol dog,” said Officer Stout.

Officer Stout and Maverick have been training together since October.

“We can use it in multiple facets, not only for narcotics, also suspect apprehension, but as well as lost people lost person. Children who get away. He’s going to do tracking as well. So he’s going to be able to track people as well. We can even do search and rescue type style,” Officer Stout explained.

Stout says they have a bond that will make a difference on the street.

“The bond is the most important part of it. You know he lives with me 24/7, take care of him. You know, he’s with me when I’m working, when I’m not working, at home. The bond he understands, you know, I’m his partner as much as he is my partner. That’s what’s going to get us through good days and bad days,” Officer Stout explained.

These partners will patrol in a specially modified police cruiser that allows Officer Stout to release Maverick through the back door without leaving the vehicle.

“It’s a very big deal. I can’t wait for Maverick to get out and work with the other departments in Mountain Top. I think he’s going to improve policing through the entire Mountain Top area and even any other departments that need us,” said Rice Township Police Department Chief Harry Ehret.

Community donations and a $40,000 state grant helped pay for the new K-9 unit which costs around $100,000.

“There is a void in this community between the city of Hazleton and the City of Wilkes-Barre. No K-9 unit exists. Today, with the help of Senator Culver and my office, we are happy to announce and deliver the solution that will service this community for years to come,” said Representative Alec Ryncavage.

Maverick and Officer Stout will begin fighting crime in December.