by: , It was just one year ago, February 2nd of 2006, when he had accepted that year’s “K-9 of the Year” award for his partner, that Officer Shawn Gore then posed with Deny at Southeast Precinct for the BEE camera.

On Thursday evening, February 1st, a group of citizens gathered to honor a fallen officer at Portland Police Bureau's Southeast Precinct.

In nine years on the force, this particular cop helped his partner capture 415 suspects, conduct 1,878 searches, and took down a criminal who was shooting at his partner.

And--not incidentally--this police officer wasn't human. He was a K-9 Police Dog named Deny [pronounced 'Denny'].

Working with his human counterpart, Officer Shawn Gore, the pair received 26 separate commendations and two Police Bureau medals, trained with the Police Bureau's Special Emergency Reaction Team - and gave 43 demonstrations to youth groups across the city.

Tragically, Deny developed an aggressive and inoperable brain tumor, was gently put to sleep last October. Nonetheless, Deny posthumously received the repeat honor of being Portland's 'K-9 of the Year'.

Accepting the award for his late partner, Officer Gore said simply, 'Thank you very much. There are a lot of good people doing good work. I'm honored to be here.'

Even though Deny is gone, Gore won't be on patrol alone. At the awards ceremony--presented as part of the Southeast Precinct's Citizens Advisory Council meeting--the officer introduced his new canine partner, Eddie.

'He's a pure-bred Belgian Malinois,' Gore told us. 'We've been together for nine weeks; and, we're in our fourth week of class. Eddie is going to be a great partner.'

Speaking for the Advisory Council after the awards event, Eric Bosler told us, 'Our group has been the council to East Precinct originally, and now to Southeast Precinct, for almost 30 years. We adopted the K-9s as one of our programs.'

It was decided early on, Bosler went on, that the group felt it could 'make a real difference' by directly supporting the police dog program. 'Not only do the K-9 Unit officers work in our precinct, but they also travel to all parts of the city. In talking with the officers over the years, they've told us, without exception, one of the best tools at their disposal is to be able to call in a dog. This is why our commitment to this program remains strong.'

An important function of the group is raising funds. Equipment costs have gone up. A full ballistic [bulletproof] vest for a police dog now costs about $1,600, for example. At the ceremony, Bosler held up a check - a donation from a citizen - to pay for a new K-9 vest. 'Thank you, citizens, for all you do.'

Partly because the Southeast Precinct Advisory Council so actively supports the program, we learned the K-9 Unit was slated to move back to the Southeast Precinct facility, on Burnside, on February 22nd. The division has a staff of one sergeant, plus ten officers with canine partners.

'With staffing at this level,' K-9 Unit Sgt. Bob McCormick told us, 'we'll have officers and their dogs available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.'

We asked the sergeant why officers appreciate having police dogs available. 'The dogs' unique ability to use their nose allows us to locate suspects more quickly, and safely, than any other method,' McCormick replied.

Without the dogs, he added, they would not find people who are a danger to our community. 'Our job, as K-9 teams, is to find people who are highly-motivated to not get caught. They are hiding, running, and fighting. We locate, and help take into custody, those who are the most challenging to capture.'

McCormick said that the 10-week training that officer-handlers go through is the most challenging training program in law enforcement.

At the meeting, Officer Bert Combs, a 22-year veteran of the K-9 Unit, was honored as he retired. Combs worked with four canine partners during his career; he's retiring with his latest partner, Brutus.

Portland Police Bureau Assistant Chief Rod Beard, who oversees the K-9 Unit, also recognized the two newest dog handlers. 'They have captures already. It tells me the K-9 Unit is in good hands. They are very motivated, and work very hard.'

Beard thanked the members of the Advisory Council, saying, 'You all have been strong supporters of our K-9 Unit. We thank you.'

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