Employee Spotlight: Captain Ricky Baker, Kennel Operations
Getting to work with animals is a passion for many people and it’s no exception for Captain Ricky Baker in TDCJ’s Kennel Operations. Captain Baker and his dedicated staff have trained quality canines at a record pace that are now being utilized throughout the agency’s units, regional offices, residential re-entry centers and transitional treatment centers.
Since joining Kennel Operations, Captain Baker has made an immediate and effective impact and is responsible for developing the current training program and class curriculum for new handlers in the agency’s narcotic and contraband canine programs.
In the last 18 months, the narcotic and contraband canine programs have grown 66 percent with 80 narcotic canines and 103 contraband canines spread over six regional offices and 31 facilities.
Captain Baker began his TDCJ career as a correctional officer at the Michael Unit in 1997. He moved to the Powledge Unit kennel in 2010 and then moved to the Kennel Operations headquarters as a Correctional Officer V in September 2017. Throughout his time with Kennel Operations, he has worked his way through the ranks serving as a sergeant from January 2019 to September 2019, lieutenant from October 2019 to August 2021, and effective September 2021 as the captain of Kennel Operations.
When asked what he enjoys about his role in Kennel Operations, Captain Baker said, “Working to achieve the agency’s mission to provide public safety is the most rewarding aspect of the job.”
Captain Baker and his staff were instrumental in the purchase of 121 puppies and equipment for the narcotic and contraband canine programs in the spring of 2020.
Paul Wilder, assistant director for Security Operations, said “Ricky’s breeding selections dramatically changed the quality and quantity of pups in each litter which resulted in our puppies learning faster and having more drive than we had previously seen.” He added that this allowed Kennel Operations to start adding quality trained narcotic and contraband canines to the field at 10 to 12 months of age instead of 18 to 24 months.
In the agency’s effort to fight contraband, Captain Baker’s program began to breed, train and place canines on 23 selected units throughout the state. The program was also awarded over $156,000 in grant money to increase the presence of narcotic and contraband canines in the agency.
Captain Baker says he’s especially grateful for his dedicated staff of Sergeant Joshua Northcutt, Sergeant Billy Scarborough, Jason Ball, and Joshua Smith.