SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (KMTR) -- Springfield Police Department hosted another successful police K9 competition Saturday at Silke Field. Canine law enforcement handlers from around the state participated in the annual event, taking their dogs through obstacle courses, seeking out suspects and apprehending bad guys.
Thousands of people showed up for the free event, donating hundreds of dollars toward SPD's K9 Unit. Various demonstrations also showed the public how drug sniff dogs are used to find contraband substances, thanks to Oregon State Trooper Clay Core and his canine Labrador partner.
Most of the money funding the department is generated through events like the competition. "All of the equipment, a lot of the training and the last four dogs have all been purchased through donations and sales of our tee shirts and things like that," explained Sergeant Rich Charboneau from SPD. "It's just a time for the officers to get together, have a good time, do a little competing and show the people what our dogs can do."
Fans were crazy about all of the dogs, especially Bronko, who is handled by Springfield Officer Brian Keetle. Bronko has had 140 captures while on the force, but is retiring at the end of the year due to deteriorating health, something that is common in police dogs. These days, Officer Keetle continues to help Bronko out of the police car. Typically, the pair is tough to beat at competitions like Springfield's.
"He's had such a tremendous career, so I'm sad to retire him just because he's had so much success, but at the same time I look forward to him enjoying retirement, getting some time at home and he's done so well at this event that today is just all for fun," said Officer Keetle. Keetle said he didn't want Bronko risking anything by making sharp turns or hard jumps on the course, so the dog didn't participate in many of the events Saturday.
Partners to watch for in the competition were Officer Justin Myers and Fido from Springfield and Officer Jason Harvey and Xar from Corvallis. Both pairs had great times and eight-year-old Xar even took home fifth top dog.
Also at the event was a booth promoting the second annual Chris Kilcullen Memorial Law Enforcement Motorcycle Ride, set for Sunday, July 29th. Ride organizers are working in conjunction with The Kilcullen Project, a non-profit organization whose goal is to carry on Officer Kilcullen's beliefs of caring compassion and paying it forward in his community. Beginning in 2012, proceed from annual memorial rides in the future will be distributed to the Kilcullen Project and to the Chris Kilcullen Memorial Scholarship fund. The ride is open to the public.