ANDERSON, Ind. —
About a year ago, the Anderson Police Department hosted a block party at the downtown plaza to reach out to local citizens.
There were bounce houses and raffles, but the main attraction was a tactical demonstration led by officer Matt Jarrett and his K-9 partner, Magnum. Moments after completing an intense set of drills that included sinking his teeth into a padded arm cover, the dog stood docilely while a line of children pet him.
“He was the perfect dog to go from work to having fun,” APD K-9 officer Darron Granger remembers.
Magnum was euthanized last week after suffering a gunshot wound during an Aug. 18 manhunt, becoming the second APD dog killed in the line of duty in the past three weeks. K-9 officer Marty Dulworth lost his dog, Kilo, during a July 27 shooting in Pendleton. Dulworth was shot in the legs and continues to recover.
Pocket Rocket and Knucklehead
Both Magnum and Kilo were fun-loving, social dogs, Granger said, but they had very different physical builds.
Magnum, a Belgian Malinois weighed about 50 pounds. His small stature, and “ready-to-go” attitude earned him the nickname “Pocket Rocket” among APD officers. Kilo was a “big, brute knucklehead,” Granger said.
He was the same breed as Magnum, but was 30 pounds heavier. Kilo knew he was big and wasn’t easily intimidated.
“He wouldn’t go around people; he thought he could go through them,” Granger said.
To those who didn’t know him, Kilo was a scary-looking dog, Granger said, which was an attribute when persuading a suspect to surrender. Like Magnum, though, when Kilo wasn’t working he liked to play.
While K-9 shootings are not tracked nationwide, what happened in Anderson is unprecedented for a city its size, said Michael Johnson, president of The American Police Canine Association.
“This kind of thing doesn’t happen unless you’re in L.A., New York — those kinds of areas,” Johnson said.
He noted that Anderson’s K-9 program has a good reputation throughout the state, and said the APD was using the dogs responsibly when they were wounded.
“Departments maintain regimented training programs,” Johnson said, adding that police can’t control the environment when a criminal is on the run.
K-9 units are the first line of attack, and are often in the most danger, Johnson said. “They know the risk, and they take the brunt of it.”
Sometimes K-9 units are used to set up a perimeter. But most of the time, Johnson said, they help apprehend resistant suspects. For smaller departments that don’t have SWAT units, or in situations where police can’t wait for a SWAT team to arrive, Johnson said, the K-9 unit is often called in first.
Most suspects view the dog, not the officer, as the number one threat, he said.
“A lot of times, the suspect knows they’ve done wrong, tensions are up, and they aren’t thinking rationally,” Granger explained.