A La Habra officer and his K9 partner were honored recently for their work arresting a convicted felon who led police on a foot pursuit and search in a local neighborhood.
On Friday, July 31, Cpl. Nick Baclit and his K9 Prinz were presented a prestigious award by the Airborne Law Enforcement Association for their collaboration with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Air Support Unit.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department helicopter “Duke” and its pilots, who came to Baclit and Prinz’s aid that night, landed in the parking lot of the La Habra Civic Center to deliver the award.
“The pilots are so important in all that we do in handling perimeters, being able to work with them as a team and communicate in real time, it’s awesome,” Baclit said. “All together it was a great feeling.”
On Dec. 13, 2013, Baclit was patrolling on W. Teakwood Avenue when he came across a man he recognized as a parolee.
The man was on parole after serving a sentence for a robbery conviction, and also had an outstanding warrant for firearm possession.
When the man saw Baclit, he ran into a nearby residence, police said.
Due to the suspect’s history, a perimeter was set up by LHPD and Duke was dispatched to assist officers on the ground.
Baclit said he knew the felon was hiding nearby, but could not see him clearly due to thick foliage in the yards of the surrounding homes.
Baclit said he made several announcements to the suspect to come out willingly or he would release Prinz to locate him.
There was no response.
Duke began using its FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) vision to detect heat signatures in the plant-dense portions of the neighborhood.
Almost instantly, pilots were able to detect the suspect on an elevated hill between two yards and directed officers to the location.
Another K9 announcement was made by Baclit before Prinz was deployed, police said.
The suspect hopped a fence and Baclit lifted 75-pound Prinz over the 6-foot fence.
The K9 quickly detained the suspect while Baclit and other officers arrived to arrest the man.
“Duke was the game changer; it gave us the tactical advantage,” Baclit said. “We’re going in the dark where visibility is very low. They have that vantage point from above, not to mention the infrared camera, which is so important for the safety of officers and ultimately the community.”
Baclit and Prinz were presented with a special FLIR Vision award in honor of their work that night.
Baclit was presented an honorary plaque and shirt, while Prinz was awarded a leather leash, collar and crystal dog bowl.
“It was definitely a great feeling to receive this award. Whenever my K9 does a great job, […] it makes me feel proud,” Baclit said. “The fact that I could lift him over a tall fence and see him land on his feet and get right back to work impressed me. His agility alone was extremely impressive.
“It’s nice to see that not only my dog got recognition, but the pilots of the helicopter were recognized as well. They all deserved it.”