Arapahoe County Sheriff Dave Walcher with K-9 handlers from Arapahoe County, Centennial and Greenwood Village.
BY FREDA MIKLIN
On Oct. 17, Kuni Lexus of Greenwood Village hosted “Heroes with Paws,” a fundraising event to support the Back the Blue K-9 Force’s efforts to raise money for kevlar vests for K-9 police officers. The vests are custom-made and cost $2,600 each. In addition to the ticket price, there was a silent auction.
On hand to support the effort, their regular officers and four-legged ones were Arapahoe County Sheriff Dave Walcher and Greenwood Village Police Chief Dustin Varney, along with GV Mayor Ron Rakowsky and Centennial Mayor Stephanie Piko.
The dogs that become K-9 officers come from as close by as California and as far away as Slovakia. Most are Belgian Malinois (breed) and cost around $10,000 each in addition to the complicated and specialized training they must complete. One aspect of that training is teaching them commands in a less commonly heard language. The one used most frequently with K-9s in our area is Dutch.
Walcher and Varney talked about the importance of K-9 officers in apprehending and controlling criminal suspects. Both agreed that they play a crucial role in keeping their human partners safe. Arapahoe County currently has four K-9 officers, up from two when Walcher first arrived. Greenwood Village currently has two K-9’s. Varney told the Villager he is keeping his K-9 officers busy and could use a third one.
At this event, GV city councilor Tom Dougherty volunteered to demonstrate the attack skills these dogs are taught to apprehend and control criminal suspects. Dougherty put on a special suit made of material even these dogs cannot bite through, and GV police officer Juan Villalva and his K-9 assistant Miner aka Chewie put on a demonstration to show how they work together. Miner is an 18-month old Belgian Malinois who got his name because he was donated to GVPD by Newmont Mining, whose headquarters are in GV, though they are moving just north to Denver’s Belleview Station mixed-use development in 2020. Officers nicknamed the dog Chewie because they thought he resembled the Star Wars character Chewbacca.
GV City Council Rep. Tom Dougherty with wife Tracy Dougherty, Cherry Creek High School assistant principal, before he took on K-9 officer Miner.
GV Police Chief Dustin Varney and Arapahoe County Sheriff Dave Walcher came to support their officers, including the four-legged ones.
GV Mayor Ron Rakowsky and Centennial Mayor Stephanie Piko appreciate their K-9 officers and their handlers.
Jeff Mulqueen, GV police officer and 17-year trainer, with best friend K-9 officer Riggs staring attentively
K-9 officer Miner aka Chewie attacks Councilor Dougherty when police officer Villalva directs him to “apprehend a suspect.”
GV police officer Juan Villalva and K-9 officer Miner aka Chewie with city council rep. Tom Dougherty pose for a friendly picture.
Arapahoe County Deputy Sheriff Dustin Wade and K-9 officer Sonka met supporters.
Villager reporter Freda Miklin and GV Mayor Ron Rakowsky, former colleagues on the GV City Council. Photo by Centennial Mayor Stephanie Piko
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