OPINION COLUMNS

Arrested Developments: Officer receives potential lifesaving donation

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, May 4, 2019
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Last week in this space, I recognized the recent fine work of some of the local law enforcement K9 officers.

This week, we got word that Wise County Sheriff’s Office K9 officer Tom has received a donation of body armor from the non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s.

The sheriff’s office was notified a couple of months ago about the donation, which was sponsored by an anonymous donor, and recently received the vest.

Brian Knox

The vests are designed to protect the dogs from bullets and stabbing attacks.

Since 2009, the charity group located in East Taunton, Mass., has provided more than 3,300 protective vests to K9 officers in all 50 states through private and corporate donations. Each donation of $950 provides a potentially lifesaving vest valued between $1,744 and $2,283, according to information provided by Vested Interest.

Perhaps no other department in the county is more aware of the dangers that K9 officers face in the field than the Wise County Sheriff’s Office. It was just four years ago that K9 officer Pepper was killed in the line of duty.

Pepper had tracked a suspect into the woods near Sunset. When the suspect began firing at officers, Pepper ran at the suspect, shielding the officers with his body as officers returned fire, killing the armed suspect. Pepper died from gunshot wounds.

Perhaps this new vest could save a K9 officer’s life if ever faced with a similar situation.

CHILD ABUSE PLEA

While waiting for the sentencing hearing for Justin Carlton to begin Thursday (see related story in this issue), we had a former Chico resident sentenced to 10 years in prison for injury to a child as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Kaymon Lewis, 37, of Whitney was sentenced on the third degree felony charge, which normally carried a punishment range of 2 to 10 years. He could have faced an enhanced punishment range of 25 to 99 years in prison due to previous felony convictions, including one for endangering a child in April of 2016 in 66th District Court in Hillsboro.

Seven months after that 2016 Hill County conviction, in which he received a 10-year probated sentence, Lewis was arrested in November of 2016 in Wise County for abuse of the same child, who was 2 years old at the time.

Prosecutors waived the enhancement paragraphs, and Lewis pleaded guilty in exchange for a 10-year sentence.

Brian Knox is the Messenger’s special projects manager and longtime crime reporter.

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