PARIS — A Nuke recently hit the streets of Bourbon County — and it could not have come at a better time for the sheriff's department.
Nuke, a 14-month-old German shepherd from Czechoslovakia, recently became the first police dog in the county. He was bought with $25,000 in donations from local residents, farms, businesses, and a matching grant.
”I'm just shocked at how generous people were,“ said Dr. Chris Swayze, a Paris resident who was among those who spearheaded the fund-raising efforts.
Swayze and Martin O'Dowd, manager of Runnymede Farm in Paris, are board members of the Bourbon County Drug Opposition Group, or BCDOG, a community group that has pledged to continue raising funds to maintain a sheriff's department canine unit as a way to fight drug abuse and trafficking. ”People doing drugs, they have an infinite amount of cash and great technology behind their operations,“ Swayze said. ”If we don't keep up in speed with the law enforcement end with technology and tools, they are going to run amok.“
O'Dowd said he got involved with the effort last November when the sheriff's deputies were unable to find trespassers who had been spotted on the farm.
”We might have walked by them in the dark, but they were well concealed and just couldn't find them,“ O'Dowd said.
One of the deputies, Ed Rodgers, mentioned that a dog probably would have been able to track the scent.
”With a dog, their visibility is not so much limited because he is looking with his nose,“ said Sheriff Mark Matthews.
O'Dowd said he was surprised to learn that the sheriff's department did not have a canine unit, although Rodgers did have experience as a canine officer. The sheriff's department had access to the Lexington police canine, but it often takes time to get the canine to the scene of an investigation.
”I was really angry (that there was no dog on the scene) and I wanted to do something positive about it,“ O'Dowd said.
Starting in December, O'Dowd and Swayze began working together to raise money to buy a dog for the department. Donations came from a church, businesses, farms, and residents. A matching grant of $5,000 also came from the National Association of Chiefs of Police.
Nuke cost $12,000 and his training, equipment and maintenance will cost about $25,000. Nuke was in training for six weeks in Indiana — learning to do drug searches, patrol work and tracking — before he went on patrol on May 1.
”He has an extremely high drive,“ said Rodgers of Nuke. ”He doesn't care much about anything but work.“
Already, Nuke has assisted Winchester police with an investigation.
As Nuke starts assisting with more investigations, he will show ”the community what he is all about, there will be more and more people that get on board and see what a good thing, a good tool, we got,“ Matthews said.