Weatherford police make ailing 11-year-old honorary reserve officer
When it comes to police work, the more hands on deck the better.
Or, in some cases, it’s more paws on deck.
The Weatherford Police Department recently started its first K9 program (a homophone of canine). The first officer in the program is K9 Bruce, a 16-month-old German Shepherd. He was purchased through a grant the department received through K9s4Cops from money donated by Discount Tire Company, said Officer Chris Bumpas, Bruce’s handler in the department.
“Part of the Weatherford PD’s mission and vision is to enrich our community and to become the safest city in Texas,” Bumpas said. “Having a K9 program is important to the work we do because it helps promote this.”
Bumpas said Bruce is now on board partly in response to a citizens survey that identified narcotics as one of their main concerns.
“We listen to our citizens and our goal with the K9 program is to help make the city of Weatherford a cleaner, safer place to live by getting local narcotics off the street and deterring crime,” he said. “The K9 unit is also important to the work we do because it will help keep our patrol officers safe. Patrol is the backbone of any police department, and the K9 unit is another tool for them to utilize in apprehending suspects, searching buildings, tracking, etc.
“Finally, the program is important because it can actually minimize the level of force officers may need to use in the future, which is beneficial to the police department as well as potential suspects.”
Bruce is a dual-purpose dog and is certified in patrol and narcotics detection. For example, on patrol, Bruce can be utilized to search and apprehend hidden or fleeing suspects. For detection, Bruce will alert to the odors of cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, MDMA, and heroin, doing so by sitting.
Bumpas is the only handler for Bruce in the department. He attended handler school at the Houston K9 Academy from late October through late December, and the two officially hit the streets a few weeks ago.
“I’m learning that having a K9 partner is a 24/7 job,” Bumpas said. “Without the support of my girlfriend Kayla and my kids Cadence, Hudson, and Lynlee, I couldn’t do it.
“The community feedback seems positive. His first real introduction to the public was a PD Facebook post after Bruce tracked and located a suspect that had fled from officers during a traffic stop.”
Weatherford Police Chief Lance Arnold said that exemplifies another major reason for bringing Bruce onto the force.
“A patrol K9 team not only strengthens our capabilities in so many areas, but it also reinforces our commitment to our community to serve and protect them in the best ways possible,” he said. “We are also sending a message to the criminals thinking about coming into our community to prey on our citizens — you can try to run or hide, but we will find you.”