Sheriff's K-9 Unit Ride Along

This is Lidar, a Snohomish County Sheriff's Office K-9 Officer. He's partners with Officer Brandon McCullar. Lidar is four years old, and a wonderful dog. This photo was taken during a mid-shift break. I was tossing the ball for Lidar, and playing tug-o-war with him. You'll note he's not wearing his official vest, which is a signal to him that he's "off the clock" and not working at this moment.

A few months ago, the Snohomish County prosecutor, Mark Roe, suggested that those of us working as deputy prosecutors ought to arrange a ride along with a sheriff's department officer, to better see and understand what they do on a day to day basis. When I learned this invitation included my own specialized section of family support attorneys, and not just the criminal deputies, I couldn't arrange my ride along fast enough! And of course, I asked to do a K-9 officer ride along.

My first ride along was April 10, 2010. I met Brandon and Lidar at a precinct station at 8 PM, and rode with them until 2 AM (their shift ends at 4 AM). While Brandon kept apologizing for the "lame night" in terms of actual police work to observe (we did a lot of driving around), I was fascinated. I contacted the editor of Bark Magazine (where I'm a contributing editor) and suggested an article. She loved the idea. It should appear in Bark later this year.

Getting the article assignment of course meant...more ride alongs! So I went again last night, July 10, 2010. Brandon had said I should wait until summer, that they're busier during the night shift when the weather's warmer, people are outside more, drinking more, getting into fights. We've had a heat wave, with record temperatures, this past week, so I figured I was in for a much more interesting night than back in April.

I was right. But you'll have to wait for the Bark Magazine article to get the details.

Brandon snapped this photo of me and Lidar in front of their cruiser. This was taken at about 3:45 AM, just before I quit for the night. I took my camera on this ride along, primarily because we were going to start at 8 PM and I wanted some photos of me and Lidar taken in daylight. Alas, on his way to pick me up, Brandon got called out on a disturbance call, and didn't arrive to meet me until just after 9:30 PM. Even though there was still minimal daylight left, we had to quickly hop back in the cruiser to respond to yet another call where a tracking dog was requested. So - photo op was delayed until the end of the shift.

In the photo above, I'm sporting a green Sheriff's jacket over a bulletproof vest, both of which the department requires civilians wear on ride alongs. All night, Brandon would tell me I could get out of the car and tag along when we approached an incident, so that I could listen in on the exchanges between officers and parties. I stood six feet away as another officer wrestled to handcuff and arrest a very drunken man for assault (domestic violence). My stomach was in knots, watching it unfold.The only reason I felt safe observing so closely all night in various situations was because that jacket clearly identified me to other officers as a good guy!

And a final photo without me wearing all the reflective gear.

Lidar is a great dog. When he's not "working" - like when we'd take a break to let him run and chase the ball, or when we arrived back at the precinct at the end of the shift - he's a happy, teasing goof, like any other dog. Very friendly. Brandon clearly loves dogs (he has two labs at home, in addition to Lidar), and it shows in Lidar's demeanor.

I'm going to arrange to do yet another ride along with another sheriff's deputy and his K-9 partner. I'll try to attend one of the weekly training sessions they all participate in, to keep skills for dogs and handlers fresh. Then I'll write the article. It'll be a fun one to write. I need a fun assignment; the article I just submitted to Bark is about animal rescue hoarders, a very depressing subject.