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Grovetown police dog on patrol

Grovetown's canine team is highly effective

Posted: July 18, 2015 - 11:04pm
Roscoe, the Grovetown Police Department's drug-sniffing dog, is handled by K-9 Officer Chad Stewart.   Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Roscoe, the Grovetown Police Department's drug-sniffing dog, is handled by K-9 Officer Chad Stewart.

One of the Grovetown Department of Public Safety’s newest officers is like the others – dedicated to the job and a great ambassador for the department.

But he’s different from the typical officer in that his main tool is his nose, and he works for tennis balls instead of a paycheck.

Roscoe, a 6½-year-old German shepherd began his watch with the department in early March with his handler and partner, Officer Chad Stewart.

“He definitely enjoys working,” Stewart said of his canine partner.

Stewart and Roscoe became a team while working for the Warrenton Police Department in Warrenton, Ga., in 2013.

Having hunting dogs growing up, Stewart said he always wanted to be a law enforcement canine handler.

“That’s what I wanted to do even before I went to the police academy,” Stewart said. “It’s really rewarding to know when your dog is out there doing great, doing everything right, knowing that you’re the one who put in the training and time to make that (happen).”

When Stewart came back to Grovetown last summer, Roscoe came with him. They began his training in December. They are nationally certified and regularly train to keep Roscoe’s skills sharp.

They are certified for narcotics detection and patrol functions such as executing search warrants, crowd control, clearing buildings and suspect apprehension, as well as basic functions such as searching for lost items or people and handler protection.

“Every time I think this is probably the best he is going to get, he gets a little better,” Stewart said. “I would really like to see his limits.”

Department Chief Scott Wheatley said he sees Stewart and Roscoe as another tool in the department’s toolbox to catch criminals. “Absolutely,” Wheatley said.

Stewart said Roscoe is used regularly to sniff out drugs at traffic stops or inside homes and businesses.

Roscoe’s reward for work is getting his favorite tennis ball.

“When he alerts to an odor, when he smells that odor, he knows, ‘I’m about to get my ball. I’m about to get my ball. I’m about to get my ball,’” Stewart said, adding that when the dog finds narcotics, he gets his ball immediately. “He thinks every time I smell this, I get my ball.

“He doesn’t know drugs are illegal. He doesn’t know they are bad. He just knows that, ‘When I smell that, I get my ball.’”

Roscoe loves the ball so much, he falls asleep with it in his mouth occasionally.

At home with Stewart, Roscoe is a normal dog. He plays around the yard and loves to get his belly scratched. He doesn’t like playing in water, like most would expect.

But work is what he enjoys, especially after a few days off.

“He gets very antsy,” Stewart said. “He gets antsy and he’s excited to come back to work. He recognizes the uniform.”

But Roscoe’s calm temperament makes him easier to work with at scenes and a perfect ambassador for the department.

“He’s not a super-energetic dog,” Stewart said. “That’s what I like about him. I like that he is a very well-mannered dog. I enjoy taking him to the schools.”

Stewart said he takes Roscoe to lots of events including functions in schools, National Night Out, community events and the Grovetown Against Drugs Summer Day Camp.

“Most kids love the dog,” Stewart said. “They don’t hear a word I say until the end when I say, ‘Do you want to pet the dog?’

“That’s probably my favorite part, taking him to see the kids.”

When Stewart first became Roscoe’s handler, he was less certain of their success.

“At first, I was like, ‘This is a dumb dog,’” Stewart said. “But then I realized it was me. Now I can teach him something in no time.

“I think earlier I said maybe I got a dumb dog because I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me. It’s definitely all about being a team. Once we bonded and he learned me and I learned him, it’s a lot easier.”

Except for regular veterinary costs, Roscoe isn’t burdening the city budget. Kennels and other needed equipment were left over from the department’s former dog, Chico, who retired in late 2014, was provided by Stewart or was donated to the city. Though they have a vehicle outfitted for Roscoe’s needs, the city traded in another vehicle to get a newer one with the donated backseat cage, alarm system and other amenities that will be arriving in the next few weeks.

Roscoe has a $1,017, custom 15-pound bullet-proof vest, which was donated, he wears when necessary.

Stewart said there is one downside to Roscoe.

“My only complaint is that his hair is so long and it gets everywhere.”

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Comments (3)

Sweet son

Officer Stewart for Roscoe's sake and for the sake of all of us

who love dogs please don't let something happen to him in a hot car. I've seen at least three stories this summer where police dogs have been left in vehicles and died from heat related problems.

Please be careful! Thanks!

jerryrice

Only dogs which were well

Only dogs which were well trained can participate in this program. They can be very useful to the Police force because they can sniff substances which are difficult to see or small and they offer safety to the one who is with them on patrol. As a reward, these special dogs should be accommodated to the best dog kennels from Metro Detroit. Here they are treated with great care and dedication.