Eagles star honored for donating Atlantic City’s newest narcotics K-9

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A member of this year’s National Championship Philadelphia Eagles was celebrated by another team Tuesday.

Fletcher Cox was honored at the John “Sonny” Burke Canine Training Center for his donation of the newest member of the Atlantic City Police Department, a patrol and narcotics-detection dog.

“As both a Philadelphia Eagles fan and an Atlantic City fan, this is extra special,” Mayor Marty Small said. “The greatest police department in the world now has a new K-9, and we owe that to Fletcher Cox.

Narco is a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois who has been working for the past two months with his partner, Officer Adrian Nunez-Santos.

“This is my best friend,” the young officer said after a brief demonstration by the energetic pup.

Cox’s love of animals and respect for working dogs brought him to the Atlantic County center.

“My love for animals, my love for canines runs deepk,” he said.

Cox spends much of his time at the center, training his own personal protection dog.

Jack is a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois Cox has had since the dog was 1.

“They’re not toys,” he said. “They’re working dogs. I’m a firm believer.”

He’s proven that with his support of the academy, Director Joe Nicholas said.

“All he’s ever said is, ‘How can I help you?'” Nicholas said of Cox.

“It’s bigger than football,” Cox said. “It’s me giving back.”

It’s also about the family the Mississippi native has found here, especially with Atlantic City Officer Amir Hughes.

“Amir is like a brother to me,” Cox said. “We met and we hit it off.”

Hughes suffered an injury that put him on light duty, but he has been a major contributor to the academy, Nicholas said.

Hughes proudly spoke of Narco as the soft-spoken Nunez-Santos showed the dog off.

“He’s an aggressive indicator,” Hughes said as the young dog prepared to show what he’s learned.

That means “when he finds the narcotics, he’s going to aggressively indicate by scratching the box, biting the box, flipping the box,” Hughes explained. “Whatever he decides to do.”

With that, Nunez-Santos started walking the dog passed the five boxes set out in a line.

Narco immediately stop at the middle box, putting his whole face in as he waved it around before he pulled the pack out, spit it to the floor let out a small bark before immediately running to his partner for his reward.

“Good boy,” Nunez-Santos repeated as he gave the dog his tug toy. “Good job.”

The dog happily pulled at the tug as his partner pulled it, beaming.

The duo trained for 22 weeks at the academy. They’ve been on the street for about two months, with eight positive indications and several demonstrations already under their belts.

On April 16, they helped out during a car stop in Brigantine.

Narco indicated the presence of narcotics. Officers then found more han 200 bags of prepackaged suspected heroin, more than two pounds of suspected marijuana and an unspecified amount of methamphetamine, police said at the time.

Their latest case was Monday, when Narco’s nose led to 512 bags of heroin, 1.7 grams of suspected fentanyl, 225 pills of oxycodone, rock cocaine, powder cocaine and $10,250 in cash believed to be from drug sales, Police Chief James Sarkos said.

He thanked Cox on behalf of the men and women of the department, and talked about the storied legacy of dogs in the department dating to 1970.

The academy’s namesake, John “Sonny” Burke, was an Atlantic City K-9 officer killed in the line of duty that same year. He was flagged down by a business owner regarding two suspicious males Oct. 1, 1970, just before the end of his shift.

As Burke approached, one of the men shot him with a sawed-off shotgun. His partner, Thor, was still in the car.

Nicholas said everyone who goes through the academy is expected to know the fallen officer’s story.

“It’s the legacy you leave behind,” he said.

Cox’s legacy now includes May 9, 2023 being known as Fletcher Cox Day in Atlantic City, according to a proclamation read by the mayor.

“In a true act of kindness, Fletcher donated K-9 Narco to the great city of Atlantic City’s Police Department,” Small read, noting Fletcher helped lead his beloved Eagles to a Super Bowl win in 2018.

“Whereas Fletcher has made an immediate impact with the Eagles,” he continued, “Narco has done the same with the Atlantic City Police Department.”

“I wasn’t expecting this, but his is special,” Cox said. “It’s very special. This is just the beginning.”