BUCKHANNON — The Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur met at Engle Hall located within Chapel Hill United Methodist Church on Tuesday, June 7. The program featured for their meeting was the Buckhannon Police Department (BPD) K-9 Unit.
The meeting began as usual with the Pledge of Allegiance and the Rotary 4-Way Test followed by Happy Bucks. Rotary President Kathy McMurray then introduced guests and fellow Rotarians Sandi LaRosa and Kelley Tierney provided updates on upcoming programs and Julie Keener gave the group an update and report on blood screenings/blood drives. Keener noted that the last blood screening was very successful and the community was pleased to have it back after it being put on hold secondary to supply issues.
Tierney then welcomed BPD Chief Matt Gregory followed by Sergeant William Courtney and K-9 Erros. Tierney also read a bio aloud to the group, “Sergeant Courtney began his career with the BPD in 2008 the same year he graduated from the 134th Basic Class at the West Virginia State Police Academy. Throughout his career, Sergeant Courtney has attended multiple in-service training courses and has obtained certifications in Basic SWAT, Gracie Survival Tactics (GST), Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) and clandestine lab technician. During his career with the Buckhannon Police Department Courtney has held positions as a Field Training Officer, a task force officer with the Mountain Lakes Drug and Violent Crime Unit and is currently the canine handler of a dual-purpose Dutch Shepherd, K-9 Erros.
K-9 Erros was born in Holland on Sunday, May 12, 2019. He is a dual-purpose trained narcotic and utility K-9 and is partnered with Sergeant Courtney. K-9 Erros has been serving the citizens of Buckhannon since November of 2020. As a team, Sergeant Courtney and K-9 Erros maintain a national certification through North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA). We are also pleased to welcome BPD Chief Matt Gregory, who began his career in 1997 rising to the rank of chief in 2004. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Fairmont State University and obtained his master’s degree from Marshall University. He has served as an adjunct professor for Fairmont State University covering criminal law, police operations and administration. Chief Gregory is a certified law enforcement instructor in police administration and crime scene investigation. We also have intern Chase Arbogast who is an intern at BPD.”
Chief Gregory then spoke, “We do have some demonstrations planned for you today.” Gregory noted that K-9 Erros is trained in “detection of drugs, as well as tracking and apprehension.” Chief Gregory elaborated that K-9 Erros was trained prior to obtaining him as far as his behaviors and special commands. Following that K-9 Erros and Sergeant Courtney attended specific training for a period of six weeks with K-9 Erros completing an additional six weeks of training. According to Chief Gregory, Erros has been successful in his skills and described two events in Upshur County in which K-9 Erros was utilized. K-9 Erros has assisted in the apprehension of an individual who fled on foot and also in tracking a vehicle that had a street value of nearly $10,000 in heroin stamps.
Sergeant Courtney then stated with K-9 Erros at his side, “Dutch Shepherds are a high energy dog as you can see. He is trained to detect cocaine, heroin and meth. He is mostly utilized for drug work but have used him for tracking as well. Even though he has professional training, he is a very friendly and lovable dog. Their nose is beyond amazing and there is not a machine that can do what they can. The way a dog’s nose works is known as stew theory. So like when we walk into a kitchen where someone is making beef stew, that is what we smell; but when a dog goes in, they can smell the individual ingredients like the carrots, the beef, the different spices.”
Sergeant Courtney noted Dutch Shepherd are not as prone to some health issues and most K-9’s will work for a period of 10 years before retirement. Upon retirement, Sergeant Courtney will get the opportunity to adopt K-9 Erros, who does already reside with Sergeant Courtney. It was also noted that retired K-9s do not go to shelters and are always given a good home.
K-9 Erros completed several demonstrations, including obedience commands - most of which is in Dutch. He also completed a demonstration on detection of drugs and was awarded with his “paycheck” as stated by Sergeant Courtney, which is a toy ball.
It was also noted that there is a temperature monitor in the cruiser that alerts Sergeant Courtney if gets too hot in the cruiser. There is also a button that will work remotely that Sergeant Courtney can employ to release K-9 Erros from the cruiser. “Erros has a variety of vests and harnesses including a ballistic vest,” said Sergeant Courtney.
The Rotary Club of Buckhannon will host their next meeting on Tuesday, June 21 at noon at Engle Hall. District 7545 also provided “Save the Dates” for Friday, June 17 and Saturday, June 18 in which there will be a Rotary Installation Celebration and District Assembly at Days Inn in Flatwoods, W.Va.