Normally, if someone said law enforcement was going to the dogs, that wouldn’t be a good thing. Fortunately, Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County members heard a very different outlook on that old saying during their Oct. 11 weekly program.
Dougherty County Police Officer Cpl. Bob James and his German shepherd K9 partner Goliath visited the club to talk about the positive impact that having two K9 officers has had on local public safety. (The other K9 officer, Dome’, is handled by Sgt. Lee Reynolds.)
As Goliath sat by quietly observing, Officer James explained that the Dougherty PD has been using the K9 officers for about two years now. The dogs are extremely useful in searching for lost children and elderly citizens who may have wandered away from home. Tracking is only part of their repertoire of talents, however. James added that the canines are fully described as tracking and apprehension dogs, and as such their duties also include protecting officers, corralling suspects, searching buildings, and finding articles such as shell casings at crime scenes.
“These dogs are highly trained,” James said. “Their ears can pick up anything that moves.” Officers had once unsuccessfully combed a grassy area for a missing gun, James continued; Officer Goliath pinpointed the weapon’s location under a clump of grass and directed Cpl. James to it.
Funds to purchase the two canine officers were raised by word of mouth, Cpl. James said. Their maintenance is underwritten by private donations.
Pointing to Goliath, James said, “When you look at that dog, you’re looking at $13,000.” But, “Not one penny from the county goes to maintain these dogs.” They are currently in the process of raising money for two more K9 officers.
The canines are effective as back-up, especially for older officers, James told the Kiwanians. Among the characteristics desired in police dogs are long noses for enhanced scenting capability and “the ability to fight and to knock a subject down.”
According to information distributed at the meeting, “The Dougherty County K9 Unit was started in 2007 by Police Chief Don Cheek, Sgt. Lee Reynolds, and Cpl. Bob James. The tracking and apprehension German Shepherds Dome’ and Goliath are Dougherty County’s first K9s. The K9s’ speed, agility, and heightened sense of smell make them an efficient tool for apprehending anything from dangerous criminals to scared and lost children, and finding articles left behind at the scene of a crime. Each K9 goes home with their handler at the end of the day, and is part of their family.”
This all supports the K9 unit’s goal of “continued commitment in patrolling, protecting, and serving the citizens of Dougherty County.”
PHOTO BY DAVID SHIVERS
Dougherty County Police Officer Bob James and his K9 partner Goliath respond to questions following a recent Kiwanis of Dougherty meeting.