A PORT Elizabeth K9 sergeant and his explosives detection dog have been honoured with a national award as overall winners in the province for contributing towards a safer and more secure environment. Sergeant Adriaan Oosthuizen and his dog, Max, have received accolades for apprehending suspects for house breaking and theft, possession of stolen property, robbery, attempted murder and kidnapping. The SAPS (South African Police Service) National Excellence Awards were held in Mpumalanga, where SAPS members from the Eastern Cape Province triumphed with top awards among national competitors in various categories.“It was such a huge honour to receive this prestigious award. It was truly a team effort and we are so grateful. I also spoilt Max with a big steak to show appreciation for all his hard work,” Oosthuizen said.Max, a three-year-old German shepherd, who has been trained in explosives detection for seven months, recently aided Oosthuizen in identifying a hijacking suspect.“Max has been with me since he was a puppy and has been with the unit for two years now. “He is as dedicated as we are and always helpful. “His skills include sniffing out hidden firearms underground or hidden inside houses and cars during raids,” Oosthuizen said. Oosthuizen, along with Max, has successfully made 69 category A arrests (serious cases), 31 category B arrests (common cases), 35 vehicle recoveries and six firearms recoveries. The award-winning sergeant joined the police in 2005 and worked at the Kabega Park police station for 11 years before joining the K9 unit.“I come from a family whose roots are deeply embedded within the police. Both my parents were in the police and it came as no surprise when I joined,” Oosthuizen said.Oosthuizen hails from Port Elizabeth and attended DF Malherbe High School before joining the police.He also assisted in three outreach programmes to uplift the status and livelihood of the community’s dogs and participated in two provincial medal parades. Oosthuizen added, “Our unit always assists in outreach programmes across the city, but I’m more involved in visiting preschools. “We make these children aware of crime, drugs and all the bad things before they go to a primary or high school. “We also have various performances to demonstrate certain aspects of our talks.”Oosthuizen and his unit have also formed part of the recent clampdown on gangsters in Port Elizabeth’s northern areas and they continue to curb crime in the city.