The History of our K-9 Officers
In 1913, Captain Leopold Krause accepted two bloodhounds from a donor, to be used by the City of Rockville Police Department for the purpose of "tracking lost and missing persons". Back during this time period, this was the limited use dogs would serve to aid law enforcement. Unfortunately, the record books for the City of Rockville do not indicate what came of those two dogs, and what, if any, purpose they served after they were donated, but nonetheless, that was the first time police dogs were used in the Town of Vernon.
Fast forward many years, to 1960 to be precise, and suddenly K-9 Corps were popping up all over the country. In particular, within the City of Hartford. The City of Hartford Police Department began a K-9 Corp with one dog in 1960, adding several more dogs later in this same year. This made headlines in the region, and was touted as a way of modernizing policing. Officer Robert Kjellquist, with the City of Rockville Police Department, read about the K-9 Corp in Hartford, and began to rally the support of both City residents, and the City of Rockville Police Commissioners. By 1962, Officer Kjellquist found someone who was willing to donate a Doberman Shepard to be trained as the City of Rockville's police dog. The dog was named "Sultan" and had been trained personally by Officer Kjellquist. The only "certified" training at the time was being done in Baltimore, Md, which was outside the financial abilities of the City of Rockville Police Department. The function of "Sultan" was to provide protection to Officer Kjellquist while on his nighttime walking beat in Rockville. Officer Kjellquist was promoted to the rank of Sergeant within the year, and unfortunately he also was forced to retire "Sultan" due to a health issue with the dog in late 1963.
However, the City of Rockville Police Department's K-9 Corp was so well received, that Sergeant Kjellquist received two newly donated German Shepherds within several months and the program was back up and running. Sergeant Kjellquist was paired with "Kearns", and Officer Herman Fritz was paired with "Caesar". Both men would train with their dogs on a regular basis, using the open parks and fields in Downtown Rockville, as well as the baseball fields in Henry Park.
Sergeant Kjellquist would also put together K-9 demonstrations in the City Center, for the PTA, and for Tolland 4-H Fair. In 1965, upon the consolidation of the City of Rockville Police and the Vernon Police Department, Officer Fritz retired his dog. But, Sergeant Kjellquist and "Kearns" worked together for more than four years, before "Kearns" was retired at the age of six in 1967. "Kearns" was considered the first K-9 for the Vernon Police Department, and upon his retirement the K-9 program was disbanded.
OFC O'Gara and K9 Strider
But then, in 1987 Officer Robert O'Gara put together a proposal to start the K-9 program up once again. Under Chief Kology, the proposal for the K-9 program was brought to life, and a local Vernon couple donated a German Shepard named "Strider" to the police department. In the spring of 1988, Officer O' Gara and K-9 Strider attended 13 weeks of training at the state police training course. K-9 Strider was awarded best in his class for protecting his handler. Once again, the program was a huge success. K-9 Strider and Officer O' Gara worked together for a little over two years when K-9 Strider had to be retired because he lost his ability to do the tracking work.
OFC Richardson and K9 Bo
The Vernon Police Department didn't give up on the program though. They immediately sought donations for another dog, which came right away. The newest dog, named "Bear" was set to be partnered with Officer Tod Richardson, but before they could be sent to their certification training, K-9 Bear was diagnosed with an illness and was put down. Within a few weeks, another dog was donated, this one named "Bo". They were sent to Maryland for training and returned ready for patrol. In late 1992, Officer Richardson suffered an injury, and in February of 1993 Officer Richardson and K-9 Bo retired from the Vernon Police Department.
OFC Foster and K9 Alex
In May of 1994, Officer Barry Foster was selected as the next K-9 handler. He was partnered with K-9 Alex, a two year old Hungarian born and trained German Shepard. K-9 Alex was trained for patrol duties: including tracking, suspect apprehension, building searches, article searches, and area searches. With the increasing number of gangs and drug trafficking in Rockville, K-9 Alex was cross trained for narcotic detection; including marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Officer Foster and K-9 Alex received the Daniel Wasson Memorial K-9 Award for outstanding service in 1995. During their nine years of service together, K-9 Alex assisted with locating numerous suspects and copious amounts of narcotics. K-9 Alex and Officer Foster regularly competed in the Connecticut Canine Olympics, and in 1998 they came in 2nd Place. Alex retired in 2003, residing with Officer Foster and his family until his passing in July of 2004.
OFC Kelley and K9 Astor
In October of 2000 Officer Kelley was selected to be a K-9 handler. He attended Castle's K-9 Academy in Pennsylvania for three weeks. Officer Kelley was teamed with K-9 Astor. K-9 Astor was a long haired German Shepard that was born in October 1998 in the Netherlands and received his commands in Dutch. K-9 Astor was trained and certified in patrol and narcotic detection. His patrol training included tracking human scent, evidence recovery, building searching, suspect apprehension and handler protection. Officer Kelley and K-9 Astor primarily worked evening shift, 1600 to 2300 hours. K-9 Astor had several successful tracks and narcotic finds. Officer Kelley and K-9 Astor received several commendations for their work together and they performed many demonstrations for youth and community groups. Officer Kelley and K-9 Astor competed in the Connecticut K-9 Olympics twice. K-9 Astor retired on July 17, 2005 when Officer Kelley was promoted to Sergeant. K-9 Astor lived with his handler until his death in May of 2011.
OFC Grady and K9 Covey / K9 Ivan
In June 2004 Officer Grady was selected to be a K-9 handler. In July of 2004 Officer Grady was partnered with K-9 Covey, who was a 20 month old, 75lbs German Shepard from Hungary. Covey's commands were in Hungarian. He was a large German Shepard with an excellent temperament. In August of 2004, Officer Grady and K-9 Covey spent 4 weeks of intensive training at Castle's K-9 School in Pennsylvania. Officer Grady and K-9 Covey began working together in September until September 20, 2004 when K-9 Covey was struck and killed by a car while off duty.
In October of 2004 Officer Grady was partnered with K-9 Ivan. K-9 Ivan was a 3 year old German Shepard born in 2001 in the Czech Republic. Officer Grady and K-9 Ivan also were trained at the Castle's K-9 School in Pennsylvania in a 4 week intensive training. Officer Grady and K-9 Ivan were certified as a patrol and narcotics work dog team. K-9 Ivan was trained in handler protection, criminal apprehension and tracking. K-9 Ivan was also trained in the detection of marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Ivan was a very energetic and vocal dog. He loved to work and play. K-9 Ivan had many successes in his career. K-9 Ivan worked with Officer Grady until January 1, 2008 when Officer Grady was promoted to Detective. K-9 Ivan retired and lived as a member of the Grady family until his death in July of 2013.
OFC Hatheway K9 Jimmy / K9 Pito
In August of 2005, Officer Hatheway was partnered with K-9 Jimmy, who was a brindle coat German shepherd from the Czech Republic. K-9 Jimmy was a Schutzhund II titled prior to beginning his career in police work dog (Schutzhund was a dog sport that was developed in Germany in the early 1900s to test whether German Shepherd Dogs acted and performed in the manner intended for protection dogs). K-9 Jimmy and Officer Hatheway received initial training in Pennsylvania, where they were later certified as a patrol and narcotic detection team. Even though he was only on the road for a year before succumbing to a congenital heart defect, K-9 Jimmy had numerous narcotic finds/arrests and successful tracks.
After K-9 Jimmy passed away, Officer Hatheway was assigned a second K-9 partner, K-9 Pito. They were certified in Pennsylvania in the winter of 2006. While K-9 Pito began his career with Officer Hatheway, he was later teamed up with Ofc. Macaulay.
OFC Hunt and K9 Narko
In January 2008, Officer Hunt was selected to be a K-9 handler to replace Detective Grady. In February of 2008, Officer Hunt went to Shallow Creek Kennels in the state of Pennsylvania and was partnered with K-9 Narko. He was a German Shepard, born in the Czech Republic in 2007, and his commands were in English and German. In April of 2008, Officer Hunt and K-9 Narko started their training in areas of patrol work by attending a 12 week K-9 Patrol School held in Ledyard CT. Their patrol training included tracking, article recovery, building search, area search, obedience and aggression control. Officer Hunt and K-9 Narko successfully completed their training in July 2008. In April of 2009 they attended a narcotics detection school held in Waterford, CT. The team completed the training and K-9 Narko became certified in the detection of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. For the next 5 years, Officer Hunt and K-9 Narko served the Town of Vernon, as well as many other communities, to a very high standard. The team was responsible for numerous narcotic finds and subsequent arrests throughout their careers together. They also were responsible for locating criminals, as well as endangered missing persons. Officer Hunt and K-9 Narko also competed in the Connecticut Canine Olympics.
K-9 Narko was retired in July 2014 after being diagnosed with a degenerative disease in his rear legs. At that time, Officer Hunt was also promoted to the rank of Sergeant. K-9 Narko resided with Sergeant Hunt at his home, until his death in January of 2015.
OFC Macaulay and K9 Pito
In March of 2009, Officer Dan Macaulay assumed command of K-9 Pito who was a 75 pound German Shepard, born on November 25, 2005 in the Czech Republic. He had many different commands, which were primarily Czech, German and English. Officer Macaulay and K-9 Pito completed a 5 week basic training course in Pittsfield, MA. They were a dual purpose Police K-9 team certifying through both the North American Police Work Dog Association and the CT Police Work Dog Association in patrol activities and narcotic detection.
As a team they were involved in numerous public events including National Night Out, a Day in the Park, Safety Town, and other public demonstrations. They were also involved in the arrest of numerous criminals after successful tracks, investigations, and narcotic finds. They received departmental awards and recognition for some of their actions.
Unfortunately, K-9 Pito sustained a back injury while working and retired in March of 2014. K-9 Pito has been enjoying retirement in the home of Officer Macaulay.
OFC Sembersky and K9 Thor
In August of 2014, Officer Bryan Sembersky was partnered with K-9 Thor, a German Shepard and Belgium Malinois mix from Slovakia. They spent 3 weeks just getting to know each other before heading off to training. Thor and Officer Sembersky spent 4 weeks at Castle K9 Training in Pennsylvania doing extensive training in patrol areas such as obedience, tracking, area/building searches and suspect apprehension. K-9 Thor was also trained in narcotic detection. Officer Sembersky and K-9 Thor were certified as a K-9 team on October 2nd, 2014.