Sergeant sniffs out crime

K-9 do­nated to the Por­terdale Po­lice de­part­ment

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Josh Briggs

Por­terdale’s new­est po­lice of­fi­cer re­ported for duty Mon­day. He’s an ex­pe­ri­enced crime fighter with two years of ser­vice at the Var­nell Po­lice De­part­ment and spe­cial­izes in drug busts.

He is a dash­ing blonde who shares hair color with his new part­ner, Lt. Chad Bow­man. He’s friendly and af­fa­ble, pa­tient and smart.

Once you meet him, you can see why Chief Wayne Digby jumped at the op­por­tu­nity to bring him to the Por­terdale Po­lice De­part­ment. His im­pecca- ble rep­u­ta­tion at VPD will surely earn him re­spect on the streets of Por­terdale. He doesn’t even care about a pay­check.

Meet Beau. Beau is a 3-yearold golden re­triever that spe­cial­izes in drug searches and seizures. He doesn’t have a last name but wears a badge and holds the rank of sergeant.

“He was a lieu­tenant where he came from, but he’s go­ing to have to work his way back up here,” Digby said with a grin.

It’s easy to un­der­stand the de­part­ment’s ex­cite­ment. The cost for a K-9 dog is well in ex­cess of $4,000, but Beau was do­nated.

Digby re­cently at­tended an ed­u­ca­tion sem­i­nar with fel­low po­lice chiefs in Du­luth when he stum­bled upon the op­por­tu­nity to ac­quire Beau’s ser­vices.

“The chief of the Var­nell Po­lice De­part­ment asked if any­one wanted a drug dog,” Digby said. “I im­me­di­ately told him I’d take it. His dog han­dler was sent to Iraq, and (VPD) had no­body to pro­mote to it. So in ac­tu­al­ity, the city of Var­nell gave to the city of Por­terdale, a trained, li­censed and cer­ti­fied drug dog.”

The re­triever has been out of work since his han­dler left and has been liv­ing as a com­pany pet for the past sev­eral months.

But Beau is no or­di­nary dog. He is highly trained and a proven as­set to a po­lice de­part­ment. Con­versely, it takes a spe­cial per­son to work with a de­tec­tion dog.

Lt. Bow­ma­nis cur­rent­lyun­der­go­ing a six-week train­ing course that will cer­tify him as a han­dler. Beau needs no train­ing as he is al­ready cer­ti­fied. But in or­der for the PDP to en­sure Beau’s cases hold up in court, Bow­man must be cer­ti­fied as well.

“I was an as­sis­tant han­dler be­fore, but I worked with nar­cotics in the past,” Bow­man said. “I could take him out right now and find drugs. We wouldn’t have a prob­lem at all. The prob­lem would be in court. My train­ing is to teach me how to work with him, and he needs to get used to me.”

Dur­ing a demon­stra­tion, Beau cir­cled the car once, stopped and found a cap­sule Bow­man had stashed in the wheel well of a po­lice cruiser.

It took him less than 30 sec­onds.

Beau has his own spe­cially out­fit­ted Chevy Sub­ur­ban he stays in dur­ing work hours and will live with Bow­man when off-duty.

The ad­di­tion of the K-9 unit is es­pe­cially im­por­tant as Ga. High­way 81, which con­nects In­ter­state 20 and In­ter­state 75, runs through Por­terdale and is known as a ma­jor through­way for those wish­ing to by-pass the At­lanta Metro area.

Since his ap­point­ment in Jan­uary, Digby has worked to im­prove the de­part­ment’s in­fra­struc­ture. The ad­di­tion of a drug dog gives the PDP an­other tool at its dis­posal.

“In the past, the pub­lic has had a neg­a­tive out­look on Por­terdale,” Digby said. “We are mak­ing changes to bring us out of that and into to­day’s world. We have some new gifted of­fi­cers and have been able to ob­tain some new equip­ment. But I’m ex­cited about our new K-9 unit.”

Beau’s ar­rival has not gone un­no­ticed. Dr. Laura Thomas, who op­er­ates the Well­spring An­i­mal Hospi­tal in Cov­ing­ton, has jumped aboard and will be­come Beau’s pri­mary vet­eri­nar­ian. Dr. Thomas has do­nated her ser­vices and will be pro­vid­ing his med­i­ca­tions and all health ser­vices at no charge to the city.

“I think its won­der­ful Por­terdale has him now at their dis­pos­able and I’m glad they got him,” Thomas said. “He’s go­ing to be a great as­set. Golden’s (retriev­ers) are very so­cial dogs and they need to be around peo­ple. They are work­ing dogs and when you use them as drug dogs — they are us­ing their nat­u­ral abil­i­ties.”

Beau’s new part­ner is grate­ful a fel­low mem­ber in the com- mu­nity has come for­ward to lend sup­port.

“The city re­ally ap­pre­ci­ates all the help that she (Dr. Thomas) is go­ing to do­nate — all the med­i­ca­tion she’s go­ing to do­nate and the time and ef­fort for our dog,” Bow­man added. “It’s a great bless­ing to have some­one look af­ter the dog.”

Beau won’t hit the streets for a few more weeks, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be busy. Bow­man and the de­part­ment work him through sim­u­lated drug stops ev­ery­day and plan to keep him sharp un­til the lieu­tenant ob­tains his cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“I work and train with him con­stantly,” Bow­man said af­ter the train­ing demon­stra­tion. “He is still learn­ing about me and how I han­dle him. We’re learn­ing to­gether. But he’s ready to go.”

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

The new­est mem­ber of the City of Por­terdale Po­lice De­part­ment, K-9 Po­lice Sgt. Beau, left, searches a ve­hi­cle for drugs dur­ing a train­ing ex­er­cise with his han­dler, Lt. Chad Bow­man, Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

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