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Two K-9 officers set to retire

T-R PHOTO BY JOE FISHER — Sgt. Tom Watson and K-9 partner Jordy at the Police and Fire Department facility Tuesday. Jordy will enter retirement at the end of the year.

Two K-9 officers are shedding their roles with the Marshalltown Police Department and entering the world of retirement at the end of the year.

Raji and Jordy will officially be off duty after years of service. Both are German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois mixes. Both dogs are dual purpose officers, meaning they are trained to identify narcotics and track human scent.

It will be the first time the department has been without a K-9 unit in at least three decades. It is expected a new K-9 unit will be established but a timeline has not been set.

K-9 officers undergo a rigorous training course before becoming active. Once active, the K-9 and their handler put in a standard 8 hours per month of maintenance training.

The K-9 officers were purchased from the St. Paul Police Department in St. Paul, Minn. Community involvement was integral in bringing the officers to the department. Along with their duties on patrol, the K-9 unit spends hundreds of hours a year doing community outreach events and demonstrations.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO — Lt. Kiel Stevenson and K-9 partner Raji. Raji will officially be retired at the end of the year.

According to Sgt. Tom Watson, handler and partner to Jordy, local donations played a large part in purchasing the dogs. He said Theisen’s has continued to donate food so the handlers have not had to purchase food for their partners.

“The city and residents have treated us well,” Watson said. “I’d like to thank the community for their support. For a small community like this to have two dogs is fantastic to have. Everybody played a part in it through the vet to Theisen’s donating free food. I’ve never had to buy Jordy food. Things like that. We’re very appreciative of the support the community has given.”

Both K-9s will be acquired from the city by their handlers.

Jordy

The younger of the two K-9s, 7-year-old-Jordy has been with the department since January, 2014. Watson said it will be a notable adjustment when his first shift starts without Jordy in the backseat of the squad vehicle.

T-R PHOTO BY JOE FISHER — K-9 officer Jordy enjoys chewing on his Kong toy in the yard of the Police and Fire Department facility on a sunny Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m so used to having a partner with me all the time,” Watson said. “It’s going to be strange — quiet.”

Watson described Jordy as energetic and always alert while on duty.

“The only time he sits down is when we’re parked a while. He’s always scanning,” he said. “He’s my eyes, for sure.”

When the shift ends, Jordy is ready to dial it down and relax with the family. Watson and his wife have three children, two of which are out of the house.

“Our youngest one was in kindergarten when we got him. Now he’s in seventh grade,” he said. “Jordy has seen a lot. All of the kids grew up around him.”

It’s not all work and no play for Jordy. He is occasionally treated to his favorite snack, pig ears, and enjoys chewing on his favorite Kong toy which needs to be replaced every couple months.

“He loves pig ears. He absolutely devours them,” Watson said. “We want him to have a happy retirement too. That’s the goal is to let him be a happy retired dog at the house.”

Raji

Raji has been active with the police department since 2013. The 9 year old is handler/partner Lt. Kiel Stevenson’s second K-9 partner.

Stevenson actually grew up around K-9 officers. His father was a K-9 handler in Jasper County.

“The dogs in the K-9 business have really changed over the years,” Stevenson said. “Even back at that time they were using a lot of bigger dogs — more intimidating dogs I would say. A lot of dogs are more socialized now.”

Raji especially has a more friendly demeanor.

“Raji couldn’t be a more friendly, social dog. He’s kind of a goofball, honestly,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson said he’s grown used to hearing Raji pace the backseat during their shifts.

“I went through this one other time. I’m not used to it being so quiet in the car,” he said. “You just get so used to having them all the time.”

Like Jordy, Raji shifts gears between work and home. Some of his favorite activities are playing tug-of-war, fetch and going camping with his family.

“He knows when I’m getting ready for work,” Stevenson said. “It’s the only time he starts barking at home.”

In retirement, Raji will spend time at home with Stevenson and his wife Celsey, and their two children.

“He’s had a really good career,” Stevenson said. “We’re ready for retirement from the program.”

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Contact Joe Fisher at 641-753-6611 or jfisher@timesrepublican.com

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