The Hillsboro Police Department recently accepted a check from local VFW Post 9094 to help equip police officer Harley’s new K-9 vehicle.
Harley is a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois that was born in Paris, France, is trained to respond to commands in French, and was obtained about three and a half years ago from Storm Dog Tactical, a Columbus-area company with headquarters in neighboring Sunbury.
Sgt. Adam Day is the K-9 handler for the HPD, and he told The Times-Gazette that Harley’s particular breed has become the dog of choice for police and military work due to its intense drive and focus.
“All of his commands are in French,” Day said. “But since I’ve been training with him, he responds to a little English now, but typically if we’re working it’s strictly French, that way he knows he’s in work mode.”
According to Hillsboro Police Chief Darren Goudy, Harley’s current K-9 car is a 2006 Ford Crown Victoria, and it’s showing signs of wear due to age and mileage.
“It’s starting to pile up on the mechanical issues so it’s time to upgrade,” he said. “We’re going to appropriate some of the donations we’ve received throughout the community to upgrade Harley to a newer vehicle.”
He said that currently the department has sport utility vehicles that are used for general patrol, but the goal is to get a sedan for use as a K-9 car.
The HPD is in the process of acquiring a Ford Taurus, and funds like the $1,000 check donated by the Hillsboro VFW will go toward furnishing it with the special equipment necessary for a K-9 vehicle.
“The entire rear compartment is specifically designed for the dog,” Goudy said. “There is no traditional back seat or cage that we would put in a typical patrol car for prisoner transport. It has to be a compartment that is exclusively designed for a dog. “Everything is done at the same time for the sake of efficiency. We give all the specifications to the dealership and they order the car so that when it arrives, it’s equipped and ready to go.”
Goudy said just the difference of having to jump down every day from an SUV versus jumping out of a sedan will shorten Harley’s career as a police dog by one year.
According to pet foods manufacturer Purina, the old adage of one year in the life of dog equaling seven human years isn’t true anymore.
Due to the fact a dog matures at a faster rate than a human being, the first year of a dog’s life is actually equal to 15 human years.
Because of Harley’s breed and size, the HPD’s canine officer is about 42 human years old.
The tactical training and information website Officer.com described the bond between a police dog and its human counterpart as being a deep one, forged over countless hours of training, working and living together. Goudy described the relationship between Day and Harley as inseparable.
“The teamwork that they demonstrate when they’re out on a call, whether it’s a track, a narcotics complaint or assistance to another agency, is a perfect tandem,” he said. “They’re completely in sync and one of the sharpest teams I’ve observed over my career in law enforcement.”
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571