Orange Police Officer Chris Brown has had a busy year. He is the father of a 7 month old daughter, and recently completed his second training course at the Ct State Police K9 Training Academy: first with K9 Major, who was killed in the line of duty on Route 34 and in December with new K9 partner Loki.
Major’s death was a tragic accident early in his career. He was distracted by a flock of sheep while Chris was helping a stranded motorist and ran to the opposite side of the highway. He was struck by a truck when responding to his partner’s command to return. There is a memorial in front of the Police Department in his honor.
Police Chief Robert Gagne encouraged Chris to “grab the leash” again and get another dog.
Asst. Chief Anthony Cuozzo said Chris is good at his job and he and Gagne have the utmost confidence in his ability as a K9 handler. “The Orange PD is lucky to have a lot of community support for our K9s.”
Chris went to a kennel in upstate New York to look at the dogs bred to do police work.
Loki, a sable German Shepherd was the first dog he looked at.
At 14-months old, the dog showed he had a strong work ethic and would do anything for the ball (if you remember Officer Mike Kosh’s dog Max, you know about that passion) which is his reward for a job well done.
“His drive was high and he went the extra mile to get (the ball),” Chris said. “I chose him without hesitation, I know he’ll have the longevity to do the work for 6-7 years.”
As Cuozzo tells it, Chris called Chief Gagne and said, “I found a dog, I need $7,500.” The Chief agreed and asked when he was going to pick him up — Chris said, “He’s with me now, I’ve got him.”
Chris said the training academy was easy for Loki: he did well in everything from obedience to tracking, and he’s very aggressive. “He’s got a very strong bite.”
“I think he would have been the Top Dog in his class if I hadn’t already gone through the training once last year,” Chris said.
Gagne said Loki was put to the test with farm animals that you would find in Orange, to make sure they wouldn’t be a distraction — he passed with flying colors, focusing on his goal and ignoring everything else in his surroundings.
Every dog has a different personality and is special in their own way. Unlike Max and Major, Loki (now 18 months old) doesn’t bark incessantly when in the patrol car, something Chris appreciates.
The team took to the streets on January 12 and so far, they are the perfect fit.
Loki’s connection to Chris was clear as we sat down together on Jan. 15 at the Orange Police Department.
Both the dog and handler were facing me while we talked and I couldn’t help but notice that when Chris, tilted his head, turned a certain way or looked left or right, Loki — who had his back to his partner — mirrored every move.
Loki and Chris work the night shift and currently, Loki is trained for tracking.
Chris, a member of the regional SWAT and since it does not yet have a K9 member, he believes Loki would be a valuable asset to the team.
Chris is planning to bring Loki to the schools where former K9 handler Mike Kosh is the resource officer and introduce his partner to the children.
Loki belongs to the Town Of Orange, but he will live his entire life as a member of the Brown family.
Chris and his wife knocked a few names around but they quickly settled on Loki, “The God of Mischief” from the Avengers.
The Brown family also has a Maltese/Yorkie Mix that Loki gets along with well. Even though she rules the roost, the friendship was immediate and Loki is gentle with her.
Being a K9 handler means constant training throughout the dog’s career. Chris already has plans to work with other dog handlers from nearby cities and towns to keep Loki’s skills fresh. They will meet on weekends and put their dogs through their paces to keep them fresh. It also helps to socialize them with other dogs.
AKC Reunite Funding
As noted earlier, a good police dog costs about $7,500 and some police departments can’t afford to purchase them.
Chris Sweetwood is from the Trap Falls Kennel Club, one of 5,000 kennel clubs from across the country. One day, while talking to Newtown Police Officer Matt Hayes, with whom he spent time in Iraq, he learned about the town’s need for a K9 and his club donated money to fund the purchase.
After the Newtown school tragedy, the K9 passed on and the town could not afford to buy a replacement. After talking to several other clubs, money was donated to the AKC Reunite, which provides microchips and helps recover lost dogs, for a grant program spearheaded by Sweetwood that provides search and rescue dogs and police dogs where needed. Newtown got a new dog through this grant money and soon after Orange also received a grant for matching funds with which it was able to pay for K9 Major.
AKC Reunite is now working on getting donations to help Monroe and Westport with funding for police K9s as well.
“The AKC community recognizes the significant role of K9 officers, as well as the challenges that many police departments face when attempting to finance new dogs. We were deeply saddened by the unexpected loss of Major, but are thrilled that Loki was able to step into his role so quickly,” said Tom Sharp, CEO, AKC Reunite. “It is our hope that more police departments across the country will utilize the AKC community as a resource for their K9 programs in the future.”
The town of Orange had insurance on Major, so, fortunately it was able to obtain Loki without having to look for money.
In October, Mike Rhodes of the UConn Police, who met Chris Brown during K9 training (with Major) donated $1,000 from the K9 Olympics to help Orange’s K9 program.