Backing the Badge

Deputy Kyle Rhoades poses in front of a CCSO patrol vehicle with his new K9 partner, Borys. (Ryan Lewallen/County 17)

Community pulls together to purchase new K9 Officers for Sheriff’s Office

A community can be described as a feeling of fellowship with others, stemming from shared common interests, goals, or attitudes.

For Trevor Osborn and Kyle Rhoades, however, the term has taken on a slightly different meaning as a place that can pull together even during trying times to support their local law enforcement officers.

Sitting in a large conference room in the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday, both K9 deputies fondled the ears of their newest partners who were there as a direct result of that support.

Together, Osborn and Rhoades issued soft commands to keep their furry rookies, who momentarily tugged at their leads to receive love from the visitors with notepads and cameras, in check as they thanked their community for donating more than $35,000 to pay for the CCSO to obtain two new Belgian Malinois K9 officers, Torc and Borys.

Borys lay calmy at Rhoades’ feet, panting lazily in the well-air-conditioned space and posing as his picture was taken alongside his handler. Torc, however, was a ball of energy, nearly vibrating with excitement as he, on at least two occasions, nearly climbed into Osborn’s lap.

“He’s still a baby,” Osborn laughed, pointing out that while both dogs were certified in narcotics detection, they still displayed obvious signs of immaturity indicative of their youth at only 20 months old.

Both dogs were chosen during a rigorous two-month selection process at the Kasseburg Canine Training Center in New Market, Alabama, a process that was made possible with help through donations from 1 businesses and several private residents, according to Osborn.

The CCSO has needed to fill out the ranks of their K9s since the recent retirement of long-time K9 Deputy Gary Spears and the tragic loss of Osborn’s previous K9 partner, Max, who succumbed to lymphoma in March after working alongside him for seven years.

We were down two dogs, Osborn said, leaving the CCSO with only one K9 deputy instead of the usual three. The timing couldn’t have been more inopportune; COVID-19 and a recent change in administration in Washington D.C. had the term “budget cuts” on everyone’s mind as the economy took a dip.

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There was no way to do it if we tried to get the money through a budget request with the Campbell County Commissioners, Sheriff Scott Matheny said, who wanted to avoid laying off one of his deputies to get the necessary funding if he could.

Osborn and Rhoades had another idea up their sleeve: to put their pride aside and step out into the community, hat in hand, to see if they could raise $36,000 on their own to cover the cost of obtaining their new partners.

“We got permission from our administration that said ‘yeah, if you can get the money, go try,” Osborn said.

Nobody, aside from perhaps Matheny who has seen similar behavior from the community several times in his career, expected things to go as they did.

Their first donation came from Torc Energy Service’s Trent Jones, who offered immediately to cover the cost of the program in Alabama at the very least and to cover all the expenses if Rhoades and Osborn couldn’t get any more donations. But getting more donations was not an issue.

Donations flooded in from nearly every business they visited, some came in from private residents who overheard them talking about their needs and offered to make their own contributions.

“It took us roughly two weeks to gather all of this money,” Osborn said, expressing gratitude and amazement that while communities elsewhere seem to be at war with their law enforcement agencies, Campbell County residents and businesses continue to show an overwhelming willingness to step up during hard times and support their local cops.

“We’ve got it good here being in law enforcement,” Rhoades added, commenting on how people here genuinely appreciate them and the job that they do. “Our community, I just can’t say enough about it, how supportive they are of us.”

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Money in hand, they made their way to Alabama, Osborn as a veteran K9 officer and instructor and Rhoades a brand-new K-9 handler.

They worked with multiple dogs, looking for hints in the animals’ behavior that would characterize them as prime law enforcement companions.

We didn’t care what they looked like, Osborn said, adding that they primarily wanted to see the dogs show a willingness to fight and not run away. The way to do this is to see how they act when they attack someone wearing a bite suit.

“What we look for is a high fight drive,” Osborn said, which can be seen when a dog wraps his leg around the suspect. “That’s him not wanting to push away and being afraid but wanting to fight you.”

What they don’t want is a dog that is afraid because the animal will pull away when they bite and begin shaking their heads, which can cause serious injuries, per Osborn, who added that Torc was the exact opposite as he bit and drove forward.

“So, when I saw that I was like ‘that’s some good fight’,” he said.

For Rhoades, Borys just felt right as they worked together and formed an immediate connection as both dogs continued to meet all their expectations during training and were soon on their way home to Campbell County.

Torc and Borys will spend the rest of their lives with Osborn and Rhoades, both at their respective homes as a member of their families and in the field as their partners patrolling and safeguarding the residents of Campbell County.

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The CCSO would like to thank the following businesses for Torc and Borys:

Torc Energy Services

Cyclone Drilling

Sweetgrass Steiner Ranch

Contractor’s Supply

Clemetson Land & Livestock 

Joe’s Plumbing and Heating

First National Bank of Gillette 

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Sons of American Legion

Life Connections Church 

Navajo Transitional Energy 

Devon Energy