KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The Wyandotte County Sheriff's Department introduces its newest deputy today -- a K-9 officer.
The big three-year old Dutch Malinois is believed to be the first of its kind in that department in three decades.
His name is Thor. On Tuesday afternoon, deputies with the Wyandotte County Sheriff's Department introduced him to the public. Deputy Thor is going to work right away, sniffing and searching for contraband inside inmates’ cells at the county detention center.
Deputy Thor answers command in Dutch, and his handler, Deputy John Loebner, is guiding Thor around the jail, as he uses his keen sense of smell to search for drugs and weapons inmates might be concealing.
Wyandotte County Sheriff Donald Ash says Thor came to his force from the KCK Police Department, after that agency downsized its K-9 force from three dogs to one. While Thor is a cute dog, he's all business.
“He is a deputy asset here,” Sheriff Ash told FOX 4 News. “He's a working dog. He won't be playing the mascot role. He won't be a pet. He won't be a comfort dog to anybody. He's here to work.”
As Thor arrives, so does a gift. Donna Wilson operates a non-profit called Going to the Dogs Foundation. Wilson's group provides free Kevlar vests to K-9 officers in the metro. They're stabproof and bulletproof, and cost about a thousand dollars apiece.
“We feel we're helping out the first responder, Wilson said on Tuesday.
“I see it every time I present one. Sometimes the officers will have tears in their eyes because, they'll say, for once, I feel ok about executing on a command.”
Officials with the sheriff's department say they're not sure why the K-9 program was eliminated to begin with, but now that it's back, deputies can use Thor to keep inmates at the detention center safe.
Deputy Thor and his handler received over a month's worth of training at the Kansas State Police Academy in Salinas. Sheriff Ash says that instruction ended on Friday. Thor’s training will continue, as the big dog gets accustomed to working at the jail.