TIPP CITY — The newest member of the Tipp City police department walks on four legs, is rewarded for good job performance with a rubber chew toy, and goes by the name of Bob.
Bob, a 2-year-old German Shepherd, joined the department in November. After meeting over the summer, Bob and his handler, Officer Darren “Duffy” Soutar, completed a six-week training course.
Bob took over for recently retired K9 Gitta, who started her service in 2008.
Bred and trained in Germany — he takes commands in German —Bob arrived already skilled in detection, tracking, and apprehension. He is trained in narcotics detection, building and area searches, tracking, article detection, and patrol apprehension, Soutar said.
In order to learn how to work together effectively, Soutar and Bob completed a 240-hour six-week training course at Police Dog Services in Germantown.
“Those guys say, ‘Actually the dogs are fine, it’s you guys that need all the work,’” Soutar said of the training.
On and off duty, Bob goes everywhere his handler goes. Bob lives with Soutar and is friendly with his pet dog.
Bob and Soutar are also on-call 24 hours a day whenever needed by their department or any other area department is in need of assistance.
“Only Tipp City and the Miami County Sheriff’s Office have police dogs here in Miami County, so we get calls from the other departments fairly regularly,” Chief Eric Burris said.
On Tuesday, Soutar demonstrated Bob’s detection skills by hiding a pouch of marijuana in a car door. Bob alerted immediately and was rewarded with a rubber chew toy.
“He has such a high prey drive,” Soutar noted, explaining that Bob is rewarded with toys instead of food.
After Gitta’s retirement, Soutar applied to be the next K9 handler. He said that with his training in drug interdiction and the amount of drug arrests on his shift, he felt it made sense to be paired with Bob.
“We’ve been getting a lot of heroin on the interstate,” Soutar said.
Burris said the program is very valuable, but also cost effective.
“There isn’t much expense other than the cost of dog food,” he explained. “The low operating cost is possible because of donations to the program and free medical services provided by Dr. Martin English.”
According to Burris, only two of the department’s dogs have been purchased with city funds. One dog was donated and another was purchased with money donated through fundraisers.
Tipp City’s K9 program began in 1994 with Officer Doug Arnold and a black Labrador retriever named Lefty, who was donated to the police department. In 2000, when Lefty went out of service, Burris became the handler of another black lab named Prints.
K9 Gitta, who now gets to enjoy life as a full-time pet with her handler, Sgt. Greg Adkins, retired this fall after an eight year career.
She was deployed around 950 times, Adkins said, locating more than $4 million dollars worth of narcotics — including 1,224 pounds of marijuana, 4.5 pounds of heroin, 2 pounds of methamphetamine, and 5.5 pounds of cocaine.
Gitta sniffed more than 12,000 cars in her career, and has located more than $660,000 in cash and 113 handguns, according to the department.
Bob’s on his way to racking up his own long list of finds, Soutar said, having already located drugs and paraphernalia in several searches.
“So far he’s been right on,” Soutar said.
Reach Cecilia Fox at email@example.com.