Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

February 14, 2014

Dogs on patrol

By Brent Brown Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — GREENSBURG – Fulfilling the duties required of a police officer is one thing; being a responsible pet owner is quite another.

Combine the two and you might have a better idea of what a night on patrol is like for a K-9 officer.

Decatur County Sheriff’s Deputy Rob Goodfellow and Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington have recently joined Greensburg Police Officer Jordan Craig as K-9 officers in the Decatur County community. All three officers now have four-legged partners capable of following criminal trails and sniffing out illicit substances.

For Rob Goodfellow, the duty is a dream come true.

“I’ve always wanted to be a K-9 officer,” the 20-year Army veteran and former Westport Deputy Marshal told the Daily News Thursday.

Goodfellow is now accompanied on patrol by Rango, a black Labrador Retriever trained in narcotics detection, tracking and article searches.

Rango rides in the back of Deputy Goodfellow’s patrol car and is capable of detecting marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and ecstasy. The police dog was purchased through donations from the Decatur County community and was acquired after a lengthy search that encompassed 12 kennels in four different states.

Rango is Goodfellow’s first K-9 partner, and has already assisted in one arrest.

Rango’s immediate impact is just what Joe Talkington expected.

Talkington patrols the Westport area with Keno, a veteran German Shepherd officer who was recently equipped with a bulletproof/stab-proof vest.

Keno has also earned his proverbial stripes in the line of duty, recently helping sniff out an alleged methamphetamine operation.

Goodfellow and Talkington agreed that the mere presence of a police dog adds to officer safety and serves as a reminder that local police are pushing back against those who push drugs in the Decatur County community.

And they’re definitely not alone.

Greensburg Officer Jordan Craig, who has raised his pet/police partner Krieger, makes up a trio of officers among three different departments dedicated to using the unique talents K-9 officers bring to the practice of law enforcement.

Additionally, Talkington said the Indiana State Police support multiple K-9 units, and that group has assisted in officer training with the three local officers patrolling the streets with a furry friend.

That job, however, is anything but easy in spite of the extra help given by the duly deputized dogs.

“It’s a lot of work,” Goodfellow said with a smile. Talkington added the job is 24/7 and entails all aspects of proper pet ownership.

K-9 officers are responsible for maintaining the health and well-being of their partners on and off duty. The logistics of involving an animal in delicate police work also requires following stringent regulations and attending hours upon hours of training for proper certification.

But for officers like Rob Goodfellow and Joe Talkington, the effort is more than worthwhile.

“It’s a little like having another kid,” Goodfellow joked, adding that at times he feels he spends more time with Rango than he does with his family. Rango in a sense IS family, though, as the police dog is one of four pooches in the Goodfellow household.

Likewise, Talkington grew up appreciating the intelligence and bravery of dogs under the tutelage of his father, Robert Talkington, who was one of the pioneers of the Columbus Police Department’s K-9 unit.

Both men are also well aware of the community-wide effort it has taken to support the three programs.

Talkington purchased Keno, who previously served the DCSD under Lt. Eric Blodgett, with his own funds.

Goodfellow acquired Rango through numerous grants and donations.

Specifically, Goodfellow wished to publicly thank Dogs All Day, J & L Minutemaids, Inc., Redelman Shepherds, Immaculate Conception Church, Stone’s Farm Service, Don Meyer Ford, Decatur County REMC, Greensburg Meat Locker, Wickens Insurance, GECOM, Westport Dairy Queen and Pavey’s Grocery.

Further assistance came from the Animal Medical Clinic, Grand Casino and Track, Davis Towing and Recovery and Seymour D.R. Clinic.

Keno, Rango and Krieger’s meals are obtained through Tractor Supply Company. Numerous private donations also helped bring Rango onto the county’s police squad.

Donations, Goodfellow and Talkington said, are constantly needed to keep the respective K-9 programs up and running. Those wishing to donate to any of the programs may do so by visiting or contacting the Greensburg Police Department, Decatur County Sheriff’s Department or Westport Town Hall, they added.

In spite of the ever-present need for community support, Rango and Keno give back in more ways than simply through their police work.

Goodfellow and Talkington took part in a demonstration for elementary students in Bartholomew County Thursday, and both officers look forward to future opportunities to conduct similar events at local schools or for clubs and organizations.

Parties interested in doing so should contact respective law enforcement offices, they said.

In the meantime, the dogs are on patrol in Decatur County, ready to sniff out crime and help make “collars” whenever necessary.

“They’ve done a really good job so far,” Marshal Talkington said of Keno and Rango. “It’s [the K-9 program] definitely improved public safety.”

Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056; brent.brown@greensburgdailynews.com