End of Watch: Death of Florida Department of Corrections K9 Freckles – May 10, 2017

By Mike Simmons

From the book, “Some Gave All,” coming soon on Amazon

The charming community of Laurel Hill, Florida

When people think about a K9, the picture that comes to mind is a big, muscular, fire-breathing dog that looks like he would eat someone alive! K9s are used for many things. Because of their powerful sense of smell and their loyalty to their handler, they have been proven especially useful in the criminal justice world.


Dogs in Criminal Justice are commonly used for narcotic detection, herding, tracking, protection, crowd control, hunting, cadaver recovery, electronics detection, explosive detection, and more. A good police and corrections dog is one that will track until the goal is reached or retrieve a ball until the handler’s arm gets too tired to throw it! The best guard dogs are usually one of the herding family, such as a Malinois or German Shepherd. The best for tracking is usually a hound or a beagle. Their long ears and sensitive nose lend to their incredible ability to track down a suspect.

Eric Russell

On May 10, 2017, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission called the Okaloosa Correctional Institution and requested a tracking K-9 to apprehend a wanted fugitive. When Eric Russell was seventeen years old, he began his life of crime and continued in it for the next fifteen years. This time he had stolen a truck. He was last seen in the area of beautiful Laurel Hill, in the northern part of Okaloosa County. He had been on the run for several days and they needed the nose of a K-9 to track him. Freckles got the nod. She hopped in the truck with her handler and they headed north. When they arrived, she immediately got to work. She and her handler worked for hours in the midday heat. After too much work and too much heat, Freckles collapsed and died of heat exhaustion.

She never gave anything but loyalty and 100% of her energy.

Later that evening, Eric Russell was apprehended and taken into custody. He served time in prison and was released in 2021. Rest in Peace, Freckles.

Freckles’ procession through the town of Crestview, Florida


2 responses to “End of Watch: Death of Florida Department of Corrections K9 Freckles – May 10, 2017”

  1. I raise Freckles and her sister Pearl from puppies that were born at my prison K-9 kennel. Early on I could tell that they were going to be exceptional trail dogs and they certainly were. I dearly miss them both.

    1. Mr. Early, I am writing a book on fallen officers and I have a chapter on Freckles. Can I contact you and ask you some questions about her?

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