Jawaak is a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois born and raised in France; his co-star is officer Dustin Kaiser, not Gene Hackman or Roy Scheider.

It's all about the purple ball for the newest addition to the Hilliard Division of Police.

The rubber toy is the reward for Jawaak after a job well done.

Most often, that job is finding narcotics hidden in vehicles.

Officer Dustin Kaiser and Jawaak, his K-9 partner, are learning more about each other every day as the pair conclude their first month on the streets, working second shift in a specially equipped Ford Explorer.

The duo recently assisted the Ohio State Highway Patrol after a trooper stopped a motorist outside Hilliard; Jawaak led officers to 7.5 grams of methamphetamine concealed in the vehicle.

The 3-year-old, 68-pound Belgian Malinois is the division's third K-9 officer and the sixth overall since the police-dog program was established in 2005. Jawaak joins Oz, whose handler is officer Jim Large, and Kane, whose handler is officer Tony LaRosa.

"He has an active personality," Kaiser said of Jawaak, to whom the officer issues commands spoken in French.

The police dog was born in France and trained there for three years; Kaiser and Jawaak have trained together for 10 weeks.

Kaiser had to memorize 10 French commands to communicate with Jawaak.

In fact, all three of Hilliard's current K-9s receive commands in French, according to Lt. Doug Lightfoot, whose partner, Eros, recently retired.

Kaiser said he was inspired by Large, LaRosa and Lightfoot to become a handler. He served six years in the Army, including a combat tour in Afghanistan, before joining the division in 2013, has a bachelor's degree in criminology from Ohio State University and is a graduate of the Columbus Police Academy.

"After watching (Hilliard's K-9s), and even K-9s in other jurisdictions since I became a police officer, I wanted to be a K-9 officer, too," he said. "It wasn't something I was thinking (when I joined the division) but they really drove me to achieve it."

Kaiser said Jawaak, like the division's other K-9s, is a "dual-purpose" dog trained in criminal apprehension, narcotics detection, article searches and tracking.

On average, Hilliard's K-9 units assist in 60 arrests a year, and each K-9 unit is used in approximately 150 operations, a majority of which are narcotics detection, said Andrea Litchfield, a spokeswoman for Hilliard police.

Each K-9 unit also works closely with Hilliard City Schools in continuing efforts to keep all buildings drug-free, she said.

Jawaak cost the city $16,000, and the protective vest he wears cost $2,800, Lightfoot said. He said when it comes to police dogs, initial costs are the greatest and annual expenses after the first year are lower; some costs also are absorbed via donations or free services. For example, East Hilliard Veterinary Services donates preventive care and medication for all three Hilliard K-9s.

Off duty, Jawaak spends his time at home with Kaiser, who has one other dog: Vinny, a boxer and Alaskan malamute mix.

Aside from a little occasional roughhousing, the dogs are a good match, Kaiser said, but they do play hard.

One day, one of them pushed the other into a wall with enough force to crack the drywall, he said.

"They were playing one day and I heard a loud crash," he said. "So I had a little weekend repair job."

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo