As a community outreach officer and K9 Handler with the Weirton Police, Patrolman Ryan Kuzma is setting the standard for officers in Hancock County, while his partner K9 officer Rico is setting the standard for catching criminals.
As a student at West Liberty University, Ryan Kuzma said he was faced with the decision to be a full time officer, now when he looks back on his 12 years he says it was the best decision of his life.
“You’re not stuck in an office you’re outside, you get to meet people every call is different, you get to learn things everyday from different calls,” Kuzma said.
Patrolman Kuzma says everything changed when he got his K9 companion Rico. “He really changes the outlook I have with the job because for years it was by myself or with other guys and now any call I go on he’s there with me,” he said.
Rico is an active and strong German Malinois mix, and an expert in narcotics. His strength is apprehending criminals.
There are four K9s on the road in Weirton, which is a big advantage for the department when it comes to getting drugs off the streets.
“If we go on a traffic stop and ask someone to search and they say no we have to honor that on a constitutional right, with him though, we can go forward and actually have him search the vehicle from the outside where we’re allowed to do that,” Kuzma said.
He’s known for going above and beyond the call of duty people have captured photos as Kuzma let a woman and her son sit inside his cruiser while they wait for the bus in the rain, and as he changed a tire for a family in the rain.
“You can’t drive around and be stiff and not talk and communicate you have to stop and talk to kids and roll down the window and let them see the dog and get out of the car and associate with them so that way they know they can feel comfortable coming to talk to you,” Kuzma said.
Work ethic sets him apart at the department, but selflessness sets him apart on the streets.
“We’re human and we have emotions and we can actually be approached by people in the community and not be scared to come and talk to us,” he said.
Ryan said he’s thankful to the citizens of Weirton for their donations to keep K9 officer Rico on the streets.
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