At a ceremony held on June 20 at the Bayou Cane Fire Training Center in Houma, the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office (TPSO) officially graduated two of if its newest deputies – Oti, a Dutch shepherd; and Grimm, a Belgian Malinois.

Grimm and Oti are the two latest dogs to join the TPSO K-9 Division.

“Our K-9 division is extremely important part of our entire department. They assist in way more ways than what people, the general public, even understands,” said TPSO Col. Terry Daigre. “Our narcotics division leans on them real hard for searches and stuff like that. Our patrol division leans on them; they’re out, day and night, helping patrol handle ordinary complaints and then complaints where the canine would be more feasible to use in that situation...All of our dogs in patrol, at least for the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office anyway, are all completely patrol certified. So, meaning all of our dogs are capable of multitasking...”

The K-9 division is indeed vital to the entire TPSO. The constantly-active division seized approximately 6 pounds of marijuana, 65.5 pounds of methenamines, 85 grams of heroin, 10 grams of crack cocaine, 16.5 grams of fentanyl (enough to kill around 7,000 people), 250 illegal assorted pills and 473 grams of promethazine in the last 12 months.

Although the canines are trained to sniff out drugs and track down and if necessary, take down suspects, Lt. Seth Boudreaux said the stigma that all law enforcement dogs are hostile is false.

“...The public does have a perception of these dogs being overly aggressive. You can walk up to any of these dogs and tell they are perfectly fine,” said Boudreaux, who lives with his dog like the other handlers in the division. “I have two small children at home. I have an eight-year-old and a one-year-old, and the new dog, I have, Oti, refuses to go outside in the morning to use the restroom without kissing my son. So, they’re very, very friendly.”

Boudreaux, who is a TPSO K-9 trainer and supervisor, credits the new ways of training the dogs as the reason for their good behaviors. “We trained dogs to be very soft and very open with the public,” he said. “And when it’s needed, there’s a command that we give them that they’ll turn a switch and they’ll do what they need to do.”

During the ceremony, the dedicated canines, who every week train for four hours with different handlers and dogs from law enforcement agencies from surrounding parishes, showed off their hard work during demonstrations at the training center. The dogs reacted to gunshots, fleeing suspects and narcotics odor during their demonstrations. One also breached a building to subdue a suspect in a break-in scenario.

“...I will say this group is as good a group, if not better, than any group I’ve ever had for the K-9 division, without a doubt,” said TPSO Sheriff Jerry Larpenter, after being awarded a plaque of gratitude and appreciation from TPSO K-9.

Larpenter later during his remarks thanked Texas natives Rocky and Shannon Smith, who attended the event and run the non-profit organization K-9 Officers – which donates police canines (that can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 each), trainers and K-9 equipment to different law enforcement agencies across the country. The organization has donated four of the current in-service dogs to TPSO alone.

“I promise you that every dime we get [for the organization] is utilized for the dogs. We believe in that, “ Rocky said. “If you’re not passionate about law enforcement, you don’t fit in the organization. We have one of the best groups of volunteers you’ll ever meet. They all love law enforcement, and they love canines.” •

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