GOOD BOYS: BCSO adds K-9 patrol unit, two new graduates sworn in

Published 5:25 pm Friday, January 19, 2024

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Friday, Jan. 19 was a doggone good day at the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. They celebrated the establishment of a new K-9 patrol unit and swearing in of its first two canine deputies. 

Tinnus is a 17-month old Dutch Shepherd whose handler is Lt. Greg Van Essendelft, but Athos is a German Shepherd that will be two years old next month. Athos’ handler is Lt. Linwood Waters.

Van Essendelft and Waters received K9 training at Orchard Knoll K9 in Angier, North Carolina. Under the instruction of owner and trainer Ken Mathias, the deputies worked with Tinnus and Athos in Tracking in Finding, Building Searches, Evidence Retrieval, Drug Detection, Apprehension, Deterrence and Backup and High-Profile Patrols. 

According to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, this means Tinnus and Athos are trained  to locate wanted criminals or missing persons in diverse environments, be it urban, rural, or wooded areas; capable of searching all types of buildings to locate criminals in hiding; skilled in searching for evidence or property associated with a crime; equipped to identify and locate illegal drugs, contributing to efforts to combat drug-related crimes; trained to apprehend criminals attempting to escape arrest, particularly those who may be armed and dangerous; serve as a deterrent and offer backup in perilous situations such as fights, riots, and disturbances, and conduct high-profile foot patrols in critical areas such as schools, shopping complexes, and parks. 

Both teams were recently certified by the prestigious International Police Working Dog Association. 

On Friday, Tinnus and Athos were sworn in as deputies of Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and received official badges. Van Essendelft and Waters received official certificates of completion from Orchard Knoll K9 and Clifton Hales, BCCC, director of law enforcement training. Van Essendelft was presented with the “Golden Collar” award for his hard work and dedication to training Tinnus. 

At the K9 training graduation held on Friday at Beaufort County Community College, Ken Mathias joked with Van Essendelft saying “he’s the calmest person he’s ever met that still has a pulse,”  but continued to explain that the Lieutenant’s demeanor was a perfect fit for Tinnus whose personality is the antithesis of Van Essendelft’s.  Tinnus is “very energetic and sociable,” Van Essendelft described. 

Van Essendelt likened K9 training to being married and raising a child. Same as marriage, K9 training takes a lot of communication and patience so that each partner can feel understood. Training a dog, even for a position with a law enforcement agency, is like raising and disciplining  a child because dogs have similar dispositions to five-year-old children.  

“It was very frustrating at times, but it’s also very cool to see your dog progress from where they started at, to where they end up being,” Van Essendelft. 

Athos, on the other hand, is relaxed, calm but likes to prank Waters from time to time. Waters said Athos stays “relaxed and calm” but very aware of his surroundings. “He’s a very smart dog. He’s always trying to see if he can get one over on me,” Waters shared.  

Tinnus and Athos will live in their handlers’ homes and become members of their families. Patrol dogs like them work between six to ten years. Once they retire, they continue to live under the care of their handlers. 

Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office’s new K-9 Patrol Unit is made possible through an equitable sharing program in North Carolina. Under an equitable sharing program, “a percentage of the net proceeds from that forfeiture (after repayment to innocent owners, lienholders, or victims) will be shared with the local law enforcement agency that seized the assets,” according to the North Carolina Prosecutors’ Resource Online.“Any money received goes directly to the agency for training, equipment, conducting operations, travel, and other expenses, instead of going to the school board for the county where it was originally seized.” 

This means that no taxpayer money is used for neither the purchase of patrol dogs, training for handlers, training for dogs nor any related equipment.