The Troutman police will soon have a new addition joining their force...one that comes by way of Czechoslovakia complete with four legs and a very sensitive nose.
He's a two-year-old dog named “Lord.” According to Chief Matthew Selves, the town has put together a unique package to bring him to Troutman.
“This highly trained police dog was originally destined for the Tampa Bay police,” Selves told the town aldermen earlier this week, “but that fell through. When we learned that he was available, I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to add a K-9 presence to our force for the first time.”
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Lord's path to Troutman was a combination of good fortune and corporate generosity. He was initially brought to the U.S. by Billy Connors, a New York Yankees official, who wanted to donate him to Tampa, Fla., where the Yankees have their training facility.
When that didn't work out, he asked his friend Tony Cloniger of Lincolnton if he knew of a police department looking for a dog.
Cloniger then spoke with Melissa Lefler of the Iredell County Search and Rescue Squad, and the deal for Troutman came together.
What makes this agreement especially attractive, Selves said, is that the town will be paying minimal costs to secure the canine's services, thanks to the generosity of several parties.
“Obviously we're indebted to Mr. Connors for donating the dog. We're paying just $1,000 for a fully equipped K-9 police vehicle that's probably worth about $15,000, thanks to the Iredell County Sheriff's Office,” Selves said. “Lowe's has donated materials to build the kennel at his handler's home, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department will provide 12 weeks of training for Lord and his handler.
“It's wonderful how everyone has come together,” he said.
Lefler displayed Lord – a royal name, in Czech custom – at the town board's Monday pre-agenda meeting. “He's been military trained, and has awesome potential,” she said. “He should give between five and 10 years of faithful service to the police force.”
The 70-pound German shepherd, who sat quietly and seemed exceedingly obedient during the meeting, will be assigned to the night shift once his training is completed. He will be used on DWI patrols, to detect illegal drugs, and for other activities and emergencies as needed.
“This is great for our police. It gives them a new dimension while potentially taking our officers out of harm's way,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Spath.