|Deputy Chris Gigliotti strikes a formal pose with his new partner Mazzi.|
The new deputy at the Carbon Sheriff's Department may weigh just about 60 pounds and be only 2 feet tall but criminals may want to think twice about crossing her.
Mazzi, a Belgian Malinois, is the canine partner in the department's canine unit the other half of the team is Deputy Chris Gigliotti.
"Chris was chosen because of his excellent service as a deputy and his easy-going personality, which we felt would do well handling the dog," Carbon County Sheriff's Department Capt. Guy Adams said.
Seeing Gigliotti with the 16-month-old pup it's easy to see the bond that's already formed between the crime-fighting team.
"She's lives at home with me and is great with the kids and my other animals," he said.
Gigliotti said that making her part of his household has two specific purposes - they continue to bond and if he's called out in the middle of the night his partner's right there with him.
The only members of the household that find the brindle-colored deputy a bit challenging are the family cats, Gigliotti admits.
"She fine with them as long as they are sitting still," he said laughing. "But if they run, it's on."
There's much about Mazzi that separates her from the traditional German shepherds that so many law enforcement agencies employ. She just doesn't give off that scary keep your distance feel that so many of the German shepherds are known for.
"One of the key things is you want a dog that is socialized," Gigliotti said.
He and Adams stressed that you want an animal that isn't a liability to the general public.
Sitting in a room at the sheriff's department with the sleek pup, she mostly inspired a desire to pet and play with her. However, any scofflaw taking that sweet demeanor for granted may get a most unpleasant surprise.
|Mazzi shows her stuff when she goes after the sleeve held by Gigliotti.|
She is highly trained for her job and any fleeing or assaultive suspect would quickly find that out.
"All it takes are a couple of commands and she's on," Gigliotti said.
Before bringing Mazzi back to Carbon County, the partners went through 280 hours of training together. She is a master tracker, can sniff out drugs, do building and evidence searches and detain suspects.
"If she chases someone, she just picks a spot and latches on," Gigliotti said.
This girl it seems is not only good at what she does, she is great.
"She obtained the highest certification through POST (Police Officer Standard Training)," her partner said.
This is one determined deputy. Gigliotti brought out a padded sleeve that he uses in training and she was on.
Mazzi went after Gigliotti with one thing on her mind - get the sleeve. If the sleeve was a suspect it was apparent that they would likely err on the side of caution and surrender pretty quickly.
The dog, however, knows when to act and when not to.
"If I was detaining you and you slowly started reaching down as if you were going after a gun, I have override commands that would put her into action," Gigliotti said.
But Mazzi has also been conditioned to not respond to normal movement making sure that someone who is just physically expressive won't be targeted.
"She will stand at guard while I am questioning or frisking someone," Gigliotti said. "As long as they are compliant there's no problem."
Mazzi, just like any of us, wouldn't be at the top of her game if she slacked off and didn't keep her skills up. While she came from the Herriman-based Oquirrhberg Kennels ready for action, her training is an ongoing process, according to Gigliotti.
He said that he and Mazzi meet up with Utah Highway Patrol Officer Steve Salas, Emery County Sheriff's Department Deputy Blake Gardner and Helper Police Department Officer Lynn Archuletta and their canine partners every week. The teams then go through four hours of training on each discipline, he said.
"These are diminishing skills if they are not kept up," Gigliotti said.
As for being chosen by his department for the job, Gigliotti had one thing to say.
"I really love it," he said.