The Lakeland City Commission on Monday solved the vexing, age-old riddle of “Who’s a good boy?”

In fact, the Lakeland Police Department has five very good boys in the form of K-9 officers Blizzard, Smoke, Judah, Mako, and LARS II – along with their partners: Sgt. Chad Whitaker and Officers Ryan Back, Preston Chatmon, John Skillman and Sgt. Ryan McLaughlin.

The team took top Patrol Dog Team honors in the four-person department team category at the 2022 United States Police Canine Association, Inc. National Dog Trials last month in Lowndes County, Ga.

The Lakeland Police K-9 Team got its just desserts Monday.

As the dogs sat mostly patiently beside their partners, Assistant Police Chief Hans Lehman told the city commission that this marks the fourth time since 2010 the LPD team has taken home the national four-man team title. This also marks the second time Whitaker and a K-9 Partner have taken home the Top Patrol Dog prize. In 2015, Whitaker and K-9 Nox nabbed top honors. This time, it was with Blizzard, a black German shepherd and Dutch shepherd mix.

Blizzard and Whitaker also took home the Top Patrol Dog overall in the individual category.

Nearly 80 teams competed from across the United States and tested for certification in obedience, suspect search, article, evidence search, and apprehension, including with simulated gunfire.

So what do good police K-9 boys get for their national championship titles? Squeaky toys in the shape of doughnuts, of course. As the four dogs (LARS II is now retired) and their partners exited the city commission platform and made their way up the aisle, a chorus of happy squeaks could be heard.  

Kimberly C. Moore is an award-winning reporter and a Lakeland native.  She can be reached at or 863-272-9250.

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Kimberly C. Moore, who grew up in Lakeland, has been a print, broadcast and multimedia journalist for more than 30 years. Before coming to LkldNow in the spring of 2022, she was a reporter for four years with The Ledger, first covering Lakeland City Hall and then Polk County schools. She is the author of “Star Crossed: The Story of Astronaut Lisa Nowak," published by University Press of Florida. Reach her at or 863-272-9250.

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