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Gastonia's first-ever female K9 officer: 'I'm glad for the history of Gastonia'

I'm just glad to be able to do my job here," Officer Nikki Warlick said.

GASTONIA, N.C. — Gastonia Police Department's goal to have at least one K9 working around the clock means more officers training more dogs. One of those officers training is Nikki Warlick. She's the department's first female K9 officer.

"I'm glad for the history of Gastonia, but I'm just glad to be able to do my job here," Warlick said about her trailblazing status during her training on Tuesday.

That job is hard, and the hours are long, but the work the dogs and officers do is essential to police. The K9s are capable of tracking a lost child or finding dangerous drugs in a vehicle, and even taking down a violent attacker when they are called upon. 

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Warlick and her partner Koda were able to track a scent across a large field with ease during training, and soon, Koda was rewarded with playtime. 

"Every time I come to training, every time I'm around the dog, it's amazing to me." Warlick said, "I love the job. I love coming out here and doing the training."

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The team's leader, Sgt Thomas Doby, said one thing people don't think about is the crimes K9s can sometimes prevent. 

"You get on a scene, and you're dealing with a violent criminal, and they realize the dog's there ... it could change their mind just knowing they are there," Doby said.

The team of nearly 10 dogs will train for eight hours, twice a month as a team. Individual training occurs every day.