‘You Always Have a Partner’

The Jonesborough Police Department recently purchased its second K-9, an 18-month Chocolate Lab. The dog is beautiful and full of life. I always find it interesting to interview K-9 officers and see what the dog is capable of doing. The amount of training that goes into preparing a dog for its certification is pretty intense. With that said, I enjoyed writing this article for the Herald & Tribune.

Article published in the Dec. 10, 2013 Herald & Tribune issue

New K-9 joins police department

Loki, an 18-month Chocolate Lab, reported to his first 12-hour shift with the Jonesborough Police Department  on Dec. 6.

“He’s full of life, energetic and always ready to work,” said K-9 Officer Jamie Aistrop, Loki’s handler. “For praise, affection and a toy, they will do anything.”

K-9 Officer Jamie Aistrop and Loki.  Photo credit Charlie Mauk.

K-9 Officer Jamie Aistrop and Loki.
Photo credit Charlie Mauk.

The new partners began working together in the middle of October after the department purchased Loki from Shiloh K-9 in Stoneville, N.C.Police Chief Matthew Hawkins said the K-9 program is completely funded with seized funds and asset forfeitures. Loki, who was a part of the budget process in April and May, was about $7,800 to purchase for the police department. Hawkins said the benefits the K-9 brings to the department outweighs the cost.

“We have a good history here with the K-9 program,” he said, adding that the handlers have to have a real passion for working with the dogs.

Aistrop, who knew he wanted to become a police officer when he was 5-years-old, began working with the department full-time in March 2012 after being a reserve officer eight years prior. He became a K-9 officer in October when he began working with Loki.

Aistrop said of one of the reasons he wanted to become a K-9 officer was “you always have a partner with you.”

Before Aistrop took a four-week handler course for narcotics detection, training and tracking at the facility with Loki, another trainer worked with the dog for about a month.

“It was intense,” Aistrop said of the 10 to 12 hours spent training, which took place daily for a month.

The partners also had in-house training in Jonesborough.

Once the training was completed, Loki earned his Police and Professional Dog Association certification, as well as a national certification from the North American Police Work Dog Association. Loki will be recertified once a year.

“He flips a switch when it’s time to work,” Aistrop said. “He definitely knows the difference between work and play.”

Jonesborough Police Department K-9 Loki. Photo credit Charlie Mauk.

Jonesborough Police Department K-9 Loki.
Photo credit Charlie Mauk.

Throughout Loki’s training, Aistrop said, the dog worked for a toy as his reward. He was trained with such real narcotics as cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, heroine and ecstasy. Aistrop said the training first began by putting all five narcotics in a box before they were separated.Keeping narcotics off the streets has always been an interest of Aistrop’s and Loki’s hunt and prey drive is through the roof, he explained.

“That’s what you need in a narcotics dog,” Aistrop said. Loki is also trained in tracking through scent.

“If we need him to track, he can be used for children and elderly people that have wandered off,” Aistrop said, adding that Loki is trained not to bite once the individual is located.

Aistrop is required to spend a minimum of 16 hours a month training Loki, which includes narcotic training at the department, since he is trained with real narcotics. Now that the training is completed, Aistrop has begun working on obedience with Loki at his home.

“The obedience comes in now after training and certification is done,” he said.

They are together 24 hours a day seven days a week. Loki stays with Aistrop, his wife and two children, who are ages 5 and 3.

“They love him,” he said of his family. Loki is also fond of his family as well.

Aistrop said he and Loki will provide demonstrations for those who are interested. The community is also welcome to meet Loki by calling and setting up a time with the police department.

Loki is the second K-9 for the Jonesborough Police Department.

He joins Gregor, a Czech Shepherd, and his handler K-9 Officer Michael McPeak. Gregor specializes in narcotics and tracking.

Hawkins said the K-9’s service life spans from seven to 10 years. The police K-9’s trained in apprehension have a shorter service life span due to the intense training.

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