September 2, 2009

Watford City Police add K-9 officer to their department

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

The main goal of the Watford City Police Department is to keep the community safe. In an effort to do that, the department has added a new member to its team, a member that is capable of doing things most police officers can’t.
The newest member is Tyson, a seven-year-old male black lab who began training to be a police dog at just one year old.
“Tyson was trained with officer Kennedy of the North Dakota Highway Patrol,” says Dustin Newman, Watford City Police Officer. “The NDHP retired him, but because he still has many good years left in him we were able to purchase him for our department.”
Tyson is trained in narcotics, but in addition to detecting drugs, he can also detect articles.
“He’s not just a drug dog,” adds Newman. “Because he can also detect articles, he will be a great asset at locating criminals or missing persons.”
Although Tyson is trained, he’s not quite ready to head out on any big jobs just yet. His first few weeks will be spent bonding with Officer Newman and learning that he has a new handler. Following that, both Tyson and Newman will go through a training course to become certified and then he should be ready for the full-time duties of a police dog.
“There is a lot more work involved with having a K-9 unit than people realize,” states Newman. “For one thing, the training is ongoing and his job is just as strenuous as ours, but I still have to spend some time with him every day like you would a pet.”
Newman feels that Tyson will be a great asset to the community for safety and education.
“He will be a great safety tool for the community,” comments Newman. “But I think the community will benefit even more through what they learn from having Tyson here.”
Newman plans to have an event for the community so they can meet Tyson and learn about him. But for now, he urges anyone with questions to stop him and ask.
“I want the public to feel free to come up to us whenever. They just need to respect that Tyson is a working dog,” adds Newman. “The handler is the only person allowed to touch the dog. Anyone else needs to ask my permission first. He is not allowed to be played with by other people because he is a working dog.”
Tyson comes to the Watford City Police Department thanks to Officer Kennedy of the NDHP and the Watford City City Council for the funding to purchase him and do training.
“I think a K-9 unit is a great asset to the community, which is why I pursued this,” says Newman. “I am very thankful to the City Council and Officer Kennedy as well as The Sign Shop in Williston for giving us the window graphics for my patrol car. I am confident that Tyson will be a great asset to Watford City.”