North Texas Daily

UNT police department introduces its new “sheruff” in town

UNT police department introduces its new “sheruff” in town

UNT police department introduces its new “sheruff” in town
October 12
10:00 2018

Many dogs can sniff out a treat or a tray of unsupervised snacks, but UNT’s newest K-9 can do much more.

In a video released on social mediathe UNT Police Department introduced the newest member of the team, a 1 ½-year-old yellow labrador, Keegan. Keegan is the first K-9 to work on the main campus since the retiring of the previous dog Joy in 2016. While Joy specialized in smelling out narcotics, Keegan is trained specifically to detect explosives.

“A narcotics dog is valuable, but our officers are capable of searching for narcotics themselves,“ Cpl. Kevin Crawford said. “I can’t stand at a gate and detect a bomb owner, whereas Keegan can.”

The department decided that having a bomb dog would be the smartest choice when it came to protecting the community. During its time without a K-9, the department had worked out a deal with UNT Health and Science Center in Fort Worth where the bomb dog from that police department would work special events. However when it came time for that dog to retire, UNT’s police department recognized the gap that needed to be filled and reintroduced the K-9 program. 

“If you think about the vulnerabilities of something like a football game or a major special event, the college or institution is definitely a vulnerable target to those types of things,” Crawford said. “Somebody who wants to make a political statement or any kind of statement could definitely make that statement by attacking a university. Because we recognize those vulnerabilities and the safety of the community is so important to us, we went the route we thought would protect our citizens.”

Keegan, the UNT Police Department’s newest member, greets students at the Safety Fair on campus. Keegan is a 1 1/2-year-old yellow labrador in the department’s K-9 unit and specializes in smelling out explosives. Paige Bruneman

Keegan spent seven weeks training with his handler,Officer Nick Brauchle at Fort McClellan in Anniston, Alabama, before coming to UNT.

“When we first started [training], we needed to learn to watch for the behavior changes,” Brauchle said. “He stayed with me in the hotel room, so I would bring him to the facility and we would either do buildings or luggage or building searches and just practice.”

While Keegan’s job is important, when he is not on duty he acts very much like a puppy and loves to play. While Brachle was interviewed, Keegan playfully attempted to chew on his leash and smell around the office. When it is time to be serious, however, a switch flips, and Keegan is no longer the playful puppy but a police K-9 at work.

When describing a typical workday, Brauchle said he is not only Keegan’s handler but also a patrol officer.

“I still have my normal patrol duties — answer calls and traffic enforcement — but I also have duties where I have to take [Keegan] on breaks,” Brauchle said. “When I go on foot patrol, I take him with me, then we do training.”

Freshman biology major Kennedy Kelly believes having a dog specializing in finding bombs is a useful tactic for campus safety.

“I think it’s very important for our own safety, especially with all the school shootings that have been happening,” Kelly said. “Having a dog that is able to smell out those things ahead of time before something bad happens could save a lot of lives compared to having just the police themselves.”

Keegan goes home with Brauchle at the end of the day.

“He’s not a pet, but he’s loved like a family member,” Crawford said. “Same as if any officer needed a place to stay, we’d let them come stay with us and [things] like that.”

Though Keegan has years of work ahead of him, when it comes time for a K-9’s retirement, the police department sells the dog to its handler. Up until the year 2000, many police dogs around the U.S.  were euthanized after their service was completed. With the passing of Robby’s Law, which allows retired military dogs to be adopted, the process was made easier for handlers to adopt their partners.

“In the past the tradition was to not get into the state laws that regulate us from just giving the dog away, [but] we have to sell the dog,” Crawford said. “But what we do is sell the dog back to the handler for a dollar that way we’re meeting the law and criteria. At this point, he’s not a pet he’s a family member, [so] when it comes time to retire Keegan, we don’t want to rip him away from Nick [because] we recognize the relationship the two share.”

Keegan can be seen at football games and other large events with Brauchle. However, before getting excited and petting him, the department recommends asking Brauchle for permission before touching Keegan while he is at work.

Featured Image: Officer Nick Brauchle gives some love to Keegan, the UNT Police Department’s newest member, at the Safety Fair on campus. Keegan is a 1 1/2-year-old yellow labrador in the department’s K-9 unit and specializes in smelling out explosives. Paige Bruneman

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Rebecca Najera

Rebecca Najera

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