Local law enforcement reflect on the impact K-9′s have on the department and the community

K-9 handlers talk about their partners
WTAP News @ 6
Published: Sep. 3, 2022 at 6:50 PM EDT
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Across the Mid Ohio Valley, some law enforcement officers get extra help from a furry friend.

In light of Kanawha County’s K-9 officer shot in the line of duty last week, local handlers discussed what all goes into partnering with with the K-9′s.

K-9 officers are carefully trained and paired with handlers who they live and work with.

Some local law enforcement say this creates a close bond while also adding an extra layer to their jobs.

Washington County Sheriff Deputy Matthew Martin said this is his first time being a k-9 handler, and it’s been life changing. “There’s definitely a lot of things you don’t think about that you have to do, but with having a whole other person to worry about, but the rewards outweigh the extra work by far,” reflected Martin.

Another Washington County Deputy, Ellie Reynolds said having a K-9 partner is a change of pace. “I’m used to just going to work and taking account for myself. Now I have a whole other being, so to say, that I have to take account for. I enjoy it. I love enjoying watching her work with the kids and seeing the impact she’s making on the kids,” said Reynolds.

Martin and Reynolds have 15 week old Brother and Sister Axel and Wednesday. The k-9′s are at the schools to help students that have been through trauma, emotional issues, and help de-escalate situations.

Wood County’s Sergeant Taylor Phillips’ partner is 7 year old Drago. He helps with drug detection and suspect apprehension. Phillips said K-9s can help connect law enforcement and the community.

“…it bridges that gap between people who may be a little bit more apprehensive about talking to law enforcement. So I’ll take him to schools and everything like that and the kids will just respond to him very well. Where maybe if it was just a police officer they wouldn’t be as interested in it.”

Just like their handlers, when the K-9′s are home, they’re off duty.

Phillips said Drago sleeps in bed with her. She said he has the run of the house, the couch, and everything else. “When he’s home, he’s not working, he’s just a regular dog who likes to relax.”

As reported earlier, a K-9 officer in Kanawha County names Axel was shot and killed in the line of duty.

Phillips and Martin reflected on the less and said that losing a k-9 impacts not only the handlers, but the whole department.

“Just because they have four legs doesn’t make them any less of an officer than the rest of us. We all become very attached to the k-9s. Handlers especially, but the entire department becomes attached to k-9s,” said Martin.