by Leah Lowe | Charlestown, Ind. – The Charlestown Police Department introduced their newest officer during an assembly at Charlestown Middle School today – eight week old female red Labrador Retriever “Hurley,” who is named in memory of the late Sgt. Benton Hurley Bertram. K9 officer Hurley will serve alongside School Resource Officer Adam Clark at CMS and Jonathan Jennings Elementary – she will be trained in search and narcotics, but not apprehension or aggressive techniques.
Clark sees Hurley as an opportunity to bond with students, who will see her at the schools every day as she grows and have opportunities to interact with her. “If you guys are having a bad day, come by and love on her,” he told the students.
CMS Principal Karen Wesely said she feels Hurley will serve the school communities in a number of ways, and describes seeing the stress reducing effect that even small interactions with the pup have had on staff and students. “We’re excited, there’s no better word to describe it,” she said. “Not only will she provide a layer of safety for us, but another layer of emotional intervention that can’t be measured.”
Hurley will be a full-time K9 officer, splitting her time between the two schools with Officer Clark. Jeremy Shireman, Principal at Jonathan Jennings Elementary is also looking forward to spending time with Hurley. “Officer Bertram was so important to our community, and it was such a devastating loss. It’s just an awesome story to be able to honor him in that way.”
Dakkota Integrated Systems donated $5,000 to fund the endeavor. While a dog like Hurley costs in the neighborhood of $2,000 – once Sarah Jury, operator and breeder of Trial by Jury Kennels in Kansas City, Missouri, found out the K9 was going to be placed with CPD in honor of Sgt. Bertram and to benefit the schools – she decided to donate the dog. The funds contributed by Dakotta will go toward transport, training, equipment, veterinary, and other expenses.
“It wasn’t just about getting a dog, it was about getting the right dog,” Charlestown’s Chief McDonald said. “That was important. There was a lot of extra thought and care that went into this.”
McDonald said that Hurley will serve to support efforts of drug detection and prevention at other Charlestown schools as well, and will be able to assist other officers in the event that a narcotics detecting dog is needed at a vehicle stop or other incident. While Hurley will be trained to sniff out narcotics, McDonald stressed that they wanted a dog with the right kind of temperament to be able to connect with the students. He also said that she will eventually be trained to track and locate, and as an example could be useful in the event that a special needs student wanders off, rather than chasing down a suspect.
Chief McDonald is confident that they found the right dog for the job. “There are little things that you look for as a K9 handler, that Adam’s already seen in this dog,” he said. “She just has that spunk about her.”
SRO Clark and Assistant Chief Tim Wolff had the following to say about K9 Hurley:
“That was his dream,” said Clark, “to put another K9 officer on the department, and what better way to do that than to bond the community, the schools, with the police department.”
Assistant Chief Tim Wolff, who was also Sgt. Bertram’s brother-in-law, said, “One of Ben’s favorite things to do as a K9 Officer was to come into the schools and do demonstrations, interact with the kiddos. I think he’d be really, really excited that we’re adding a dog that’s going to be assigned to the schools – especially a lab. It’s really awesome that we’re able to put a dog in the school – Adam’s a good K9 handler as well, and he’ll train little Hurley right and make Ben proud.”