When Warren Cavanagh met Kevin Hoover in Irmo, it was a case of juvenile delinquent meets cop.
“Kevin knew me when I was about 16 years old,” Cavanagh said, “and I was the definition of juvenile delinquent. There were a couple times he was called to disperse a crowd that I may have been a part of.”
Now, the two are close friends, and fellow police dog handlers at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, where Hoover supervises the K-9 unit. So when it came time to nominate Hoover for an award from Gov. Nikki Haley for dedicated service to the community, Cavanagh was the one who wrote the letter.
“When I think about the definition of a man, it’s not a big burly strong guy who can lift anything – it’s a guy who protects the homestead and protects his family,” Cavanagh said. “I can tell you with utter confidence that Lt. Kevin Hoover does without so that his family can do with.”
The sheriff’s department surprised Hoover with the award Thursday morning in the presence of his family and his fellow deputies. Hoover credited the men and women alongside him for his success.
“It’s not just me, it’s all of us as a team,” he said. “Without them, it’s nothing.”
That dedication to the unit comes to the forefront when Hoover’s fellow officers are suffering, Cavanagh said.
“I lost my K-9 back in 2011 in a shooting,” Cavanagh said of the shooting that took the life of Fargo, Cavanagh’s canine partner for five years, who was killed while deputies were trying to catch a burglary suspect. “From that very moment, he was there, he was at my house. We had coffee together. He wouldn’t leave my side until he knew that things were OK.”
The lieutenant has been in law enforcement 23 years – 15 of which he has handled police dogs. He has worked with his current K-9, Arko, for eight years.
Hoover is a dog lover at home as well as at work, according to Stacy Hoover, his wife of 21 years. Along with Arko, the Hoovers have two chihuahuas at home.
The four-footed deputy fits right in with the chihuahuas and with the Hoovers’ two daughters, Stacy Hoover said.
“They have grown up with a police dog in the house all the time, since they were little babies,” she said.