WARWICK – They have been constant companions for the past two years, aiding in searches, community outreach and more, in both their home community of Burrillville and neighboring towns.
And this month, Burrillville Police K-9 Rex and his handler Officer Bret Simas were named American Legion Department of Rhode Island’s 2021 Law Enforcement Officers of the Year.
The award was presented to the canine/cop duo at American Legion State Convention at the Crossings in Warwick on Friday, June 24 by RI Legion Law & Order Chairman Dave Malone and Department Commander Dave Singleton.
The event also included presentation of a $1,000 check from the Legion Children and Youth Committee for the Burrillville Weekend Snack Pack program to Burrillville Post 88 Commander Raymond Trinque.
It was Post 88 that first named Simas and Rex Officers of the Year for the local division, also submitting the officers’ names to the larger organization for the state designation.
Simas, a 28-year-old officer who began his career with the BPD in 2018, had some law enforcement achievements before he was named a K-9 handler, including an investigation of property damage in his first year that received an outstanding department recognition, and the designation of Highway Champion from the Rhode Island Office of Highway Safety in 2019 for his work in traffic enforcement.
He was named Rex’s handler in 2020 bringing back a canine program dormant for ten years following an application process. The pair completed 20 weeks of training and was certified by American K-9 Association, officially becoming partners and going to work for BPD in March of 2020.
Since then, the young German Shepherd and patrol officer have been called to duty numerous times, helping in the search for a man hiding from Burrillville police after a reckless driving incident, and locating pounds of marijuana in a driver’s car after they reported to a traffic stop in North Smithfield.
In December, Simas took a lead roll in locating a 12-year-old girl who went missing from Burrillville Middle School, which ultimately lead to child snatching charges for a registered sex offender.
The dog hails from Czechoslovakia, joining the force at just one year old, and the pair’s work helping neighboring departments with things such as missing person searches can bring in extra funding for their department.
Simas and Rex primarily working second and third shifts, but also participate in various community outreach events.