Beaverton's National Night Out draws hundreds
Hundreds turned out Tuesday at Beaverton City Park for National Night Out, when police mingle with the public to build relationships.
"This is what it is all about: Community," Mayor Denny Doyle said.
But he kept his remarks brief. He knew what the crowd, particularly the children, came to see: Beaverton police dogs in action.
"We're going to turn it over to the stars of the evening," Doyle said.
Two of the five police dogs participated in demonstrations, such as detecting a human scent on house keys, sniffing out hidden contraband under traffic cones, and going after a fleeing suspect — actually another officer, not in uniform, but with protective padding.
Three of the dogs, plus their handlers, met small groups afterward.
Beaverton Police began with two dogs in 1979.
All five current dogs, plus their handlers, put into 400 hours of training (10 weeks) before they are paired for duty — and they continue to train 16 hours every month. The dogs must be recertified every year until they are retired.
Dogs are obtained from an out-of-state vendor. They begin training at six weeks old, although they are between 18 and 30 months old when police start working with them.
All five are tracking dogs, and Officer Rob Wolfe, who is a trainer, said two of them are cross-trained for other purposes such as drug detection.
His dog is Enzo, who just turned 9, and will retire by the end of 2019. Police dogs normally retire when they reach ages 8 to 11, although they can go on until 12 or 13.
Although a dog can be reassigned if something happens to its handler, such as a promotion, Wolfe said dogs normally are retired with their handlers, who pay the city to acquire them — and the handlers move on to other police jobs.
Police also displayed their bicycles — there is a two-officer patrol downtown, and a second team will be added this year — motorcycles, and even a former military vehicle used by the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team.
In addition to Beaverton Police, National Night Out draws other government agencies such as Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue — which had a ladder truck on display — Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District, Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency, Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District, Community Emergency Response Team, and even the FBI's Portland Division.
Among the nongovernmental sponsors this year were AT&T, Beaverton Toyota, Game House Café, Home Depot, iHeart Radio and New Seasons Market.
"We all have a role in keeping Beaverton safe and a loving place," Police Chief Jim Monger said.
"I just have one request: If you have not said 'hi' ever in your life to a police officer, we are here tonight. That is how those partnerships and relationships begin, just by taking the time and saying 'hi' to one another."