Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Crosby stands alongside his K-9 partner, Blek.

ST. JOSEPH — Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Crosby and his K-9 partner Blek (pronounced Blue) were recently honored by their peers from all over the nation.

The pair received an Exceptional Service Award from the North American Police Work Dog Association at the organization’s national workshop in Broken Arrow, Okla.

Crosby and Blek were honored for their actions during an incident on March 25, 2020, in which they saved a 1-year-old girl from a potentially dangerous situation.

Berrien County Undersheriff Chuck Heit said the girl was in a car with a 29-year-old man who was wanted out of Portage, Mich. The man was considered to be armed and dangerous, Heit said.

A police pursuit in Van Buren County ended before the vehicle entered Berrien County. Due to the baby being in the car, police did not chase the vehicle.

It was then spotted traveling on Pipestone Road near Britain Avenue in Benton Harbor, and later found abandoned near the intersection of East Main and Butternut Street in Benton Township.

A perimeter was set up by several officers in the area and Deputy Crosby and Blek began to track the suspect. He was ultimately found hiding behind a shed in the 1200 block of Vincent Court, and Blek apprehended him by clamping his teeth on the man’s arm.

The child was found behind the shed, unharmed, and was reunited with her mother.

A firearm was later recovered near where the suspect vehicle had been abandoned, Heit said.

“Deputy Crosby and K-9 Blek are commended for their efforts in bringing what could have been a very dangerous situation to a close without serious injury to anyone involved,” Heit said in a news release. “The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office is extremely proud of the work that was done by Deputy Crosby and K-9 Blek.”

The NAPWDA, founded in 1977, is made up of K-9 officer teams throughout the U.S. and several other countries, and is committed to supporting police/K-9 teams throughout the world, Heit said.

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