- The Coshocton County Sheriff’s Office recently added a third K-9 unit in order to have a police dog on every shift most days.
- Dep. Jeremy Johnson with Rip, a Dutch Shepherd, recently started patrolling the streets after six weeks of basic training and more locally.
- The dogs are trained for narcotics detection, tracking, evidence search and suspect apprehension.
- Sheriff James Crawford said it’s unusual for a department their size to have three K-9 units, but it’s because of strong public support.
COSHOCTON — The Coshocton County Sheriff’s Office is expanding it’s K-9 unit to better serve the public.
Dep. Jeremy Johnson and Rip, a Dutch Shepherd, recently started patrolling the streets. They join Det. Dave Stone with Charli and Dept. Steve Mox with Chili. Charli replaced the retired Henata last summer. Stone was the first handler in the county, starting with the late Dingo in 2007. Mox and Chili started in 2017 with Chili having about another year before retirement. Plans are to pair Mox with a new dog at that time.
Sheriff James Crawford said when the West Lafayette Police Department briefly had a K-9 unit last year, it was seen how much another unit could benefit the county. A third dog and handler could pick up slack if an officer is off, out of office for training or tied up on a case. Funding to initiate the third unit came from drug forfeiture money through the Coshocton County Prosecutor’s Office.
“This allows us to put a K-9 on every shift, everyday. That was a goal of mine. I wanted to have the availability of the K-9 program,” Crawford said. “They have proven themselves over and over again and that’s why I was pushing for a third K-9. We just see the benefits over and over.”
Importance of K-9s
All three dogs are trained for narcotics detection, tracking, evidence search and suspect apprehension. They also participate in demonstrations for public events, school students and clubs. Stone said that’s a favorite activity.
“The people get to see what the dogs do and we get to explain to people what we do so they have a better understanding as to what our unit is about,” Stone said. “A lot of people, especially younger kids, perceive a police dog to be an attack dog. It’s nice to be able to explain that they’re not an attack dog; they’re an apprehension dog and a work dog. They do it on command and when they’re supposed to.”
Stone has also recently become a certified trainer and works with dogs from other departments in training groups.
“It’s nice to have someone in our group that has that experience to be able to do it,” Stone said of becoming a trainer.
Crawford said the dogs are very crucial to drug busts, which have been seen an upswing this year. Not every law enforcement agency in Ohio has K-9s and some only have one, he said. The main reason the sheriff’s office was able to launch the division and keep it going is community support.
“We’ve never had an issue finding a donor for that program, but it takes more than just the purchase of the canine to continue the program. Everyday we have to feed the dog, we have to take the dog to the vet and, throughout the year, we have citizens throughout our community that bring in donations to keep that program running,” Crawford said. “For departments our size in Ohio, it’s probably 50-50 on who has K-9s and who doesn’t.”
Johnson and Rip
Johnson has been with the sheriff’s office almost three years. When he heard a third K-9 unit was being added, he jumped at the chance to be the handler.
“I like to get out, work hard and find drugs on the streets. That goes hand-in-hand with the K-9 unit,” he said. “The K-9 unit gets called out on a lot of things and I like being involved.”
Johnson and Rip are continuing to train on the local level, but completed six weeks of basic training at Merry K9 Services in Norwich. Training included scent work, article searches and biting for apprehension.
Rip still has a lot pup in him, but Johnson said he’s been a great partner so far and the sheriff’s office believes they have another winner on their hands.
“I told the trainer, when we first originally got him and had him a few weeks, I told him, ‘I couldn’t ask for a better dog. He’s been super great the entire time,'” Johnson said. “He comes to work and when it’s time to work, he knows exactly what he’s supposed to do and he does it.”
Stone has also been very helpful, Johnson said, due to his wealth of knowledge and years of experience.
“If I see something with the dog, he’s doing this or that and I ask Dave, ‘what can we do to work on that.’ He’s helped me with the answers. It’s years of experience I don’t have,” Johnson said.
Leonard Hayhurst is a community content coordinator and general news reporter for the Coshocton Tribune with close to 15 years of local journalism experience and multiple awards from the Ohio Associated Press. He can be reached at 740-295-3417 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @llhayhurst.