Southeast neighbors honor, support 4-legged officers

See which police dog was chosen for the “K-9 of the Year” award by members of SE Precinct Citizen’s Advisory Council. And, you may be surprised to learn how many bad guys these four-legged cops take down ‚Ķ

Portland Police Bureau’s Dave Benson presents K-9 Unit Officer Shawn Gore with the “K-9 of the Year Award” for his work with his departed partner, Deny.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A group of citizens gathered to honor a fallen officer at Portland Police Bureau’s SE Precinct on February 1. In nine years on the force, this cop helped his partner capture 415 suspects, conduct 1,878 searches, and took down a criminal who was shooting at his partner.

By the way, this police officer wasn’t human. He was a K-9 Police dog named Deny [pronounced “Denny“].

Working with his human counterpart, Officer Shawn Gore, the pair received 26 separate commendations and two Police Bureau medals, trained with the Police Bureau’s Special Emergency Reaction Team ‚Äì and gave 43 demonstrations to youth groups across the city.

Deny developed an inoperable brain tumor, was put to sleep in October of 2006.

Accepting the award, Gore said simply, “Thank you very much. There are a lot of good people doing good work. I’m honored to be here.”

K-9 Unit Officer Shawn Gore introduces his new K-9 partner, Eddie.

Gets new partner
Even though Deny is gone, Gore won’t be on patrol alone. At the awards ceremony–presented as part of the SE Precinct Citizen’s Advisory Council meeting–the officer introduced his new partner, Eddie.

“He’s a pure-bred Belgian Malinois,” Gore told us. “We’ve been together for nine weeks; and, we’re in our fourth week of class. Eddie is going to be a great partner.”

Telling why the SE Precinct Citizen’s Advisory Council has long supported the Portland Police K-9 Unit is Eric Bosler.

SE citizens “adopt” police dogs
Speaking for the Advisory Council, Eric Bosler told us, “our group has been the council to East Precinct originally, and now to SE Precinct, for almost 30 years. We adopted the K-9’s as one of our programs.”

It was decided early on, Bosler said, that the group felt they could “make a real difference” by directly supporting the police dog program. “Not only to the K-9 Unit officers work in our precinct, but they also travel to all parts of the city. In talking with officers over the years, they’ve told us, without exception, one of the best tools at their disposal is to be able to call in a dog. This is why our commitment to this program remains strong.”

Equipment costs have gone up, Bosler told the group. A full ballistic vest for a police dog costs about $1,600, he said, by way of example. Then, he held up a check ‚Äì a donation from a citizen ‚Äì to pay for a new K-9 vest. “Thank you, citizens, for all you do.”

Portland Police Bureau K-9 Unit Sgt. Bob McCormick relates the role of police dogs within the bureau.

K-9 Unit moves to SE Precinct
Partly because the SE Precinct Advisory Council supports the program, we learned the K-9 Unit will be moved back to SE Precinct on February 22.

The division has a staff of one sergeant, plus ten officers with canine partners.

“With staffing at this level,” K-9 Unit Sgt. Bob McCormick told us, “we’ll have officers and their dogs available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

We asked the sergeant why officers appreciate having police dogs available.

“The dogs’ unique ability to use their nose allows us to locate suspects more quickly, and safely, than any other method,” McCormick explained.

Without the dogs, he added, they would not find people who are a danger to our community. “Our job, as K-9 teams, is to find people who are highly-motivated to not get caught. They are hiding, running, and fighting. We locate, and help take into custody, those who are the most challenging to capture.”

McCormick said that the 10-week training that officer-handlers go through is the most challenging training program in law enforcement.

Eric Bosler presents Officer Bert Combs with a plaque recognizing his years of service in the K-9 Unit.

New K-9 officers train
At the meeting, Officer Bert Combs, a 22-year veteran of the K-9 Unit was honored as he retires. Combs worked with four canine partners during his career. He’s retiring with his present partner, Brutus.

Portland Police Bureau Assistant Chief Rod Beard, who oversees the K-9 Unit, also recognized the two newest dog handlers. “They have captures already. It tells me the K-9 Unit is in good hands. They are very motivated, and work very hard.”

K-9 Unit Officer Ryan Hilstenteger shows off his new four-legged partner, Justice.

Beard thanked the members of the Advisory Council, saying, “You all have been strong supporters of our K-9 Unit. We thank you.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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