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Wichita Falls Living Magazine

Lock'd & Loaded

Apr 09, 2021 09:05AM ● By Heather Martin
The Wichita Falls Police Department (WFPD) received a new four-legged addition to its force, 
K-9 Officer Lock.

Written By Ellen Slater | Photos Courtesy of WFPD


The Southwest Rotary Club of Wichita Falls recently donated $8,500 to the police department for the purchase of a new patrol dog named Lock. The four-legged officer was born in Poland and has been training to become a police dog since he was a puppy. Lock replaces K-9 Officer Turko who recently retired after nine years of service with the force. 

Lock and his handler, Officer Jesse Bartow, are part of the department’s Gang Task Force Unit and work in narcotics detection and tracking. The two have been partners since late January. And although Bartow has been with the department for 15 years, Lock is his first K-9 partner. “Lock has been training for this role since he was a puppy,” said Bartow. “We spent three weeks in Mississippi training together to learn how to work with each other – how to do our jobs together before we could begin work at the department.”

According to Bartow, the K-9 Unit’s targets are high-level gang members who are armed and violent. “On a typical day, we start with an hour of training prior to beginning our shift,” 
Bartow explains. “During our shift we may survey a location that we have intelligence on or track individuals who’ve run from the police.”

When not at work, Lock lives full-time with Bartow and his wife LeeAnne in an outdoor kennel , purchased by the Citizen’s Police Academy. Bartow says Lock’s breed, the Belgian Malinois, are known to be highly intelligent, hard-working, easy to train and sociable. “Lock has lots of energy and gets along well with my wife,” he said. “I can often find LeeAnne outside with Lock playing catch. We’re grateful to the SW Rotary Club for providing the funding to purchase him.”
     
 The police department introduced the K-9 program in the 1980’s, hoping to reduce criminal activity in the city, especially in the areas of gang violence and narcotics trafficking. Since that time, many different officers and their K-9 partners have been members of the Gang Task Force Unit. 

 

According to Southwest Rotary Club member, Jack Browne, the decision to provide the funds to purchase Lock was made after another Rotary club member shared a personal experience with a K-9 officer. “One of our members, Dan Campbell, is an attorney who represents clients with diminished mental capacity (often due to Alzheimer’s or dementia)” said Browne. “One of his elderly clients wandered off and was lost for quite a while. While K-9 Turko was involved in the search, a citizen and an officer found her. K-9 Lock does have tracking capability in his training.
After Campbell presented the idea to members, and Police Chief Manuel Borrego made a presentation on the K-9 unit to members, SW Rotary decided to donate the needed funds. In addition to narcotics detection, Lock is also trained to track lost children and elderly adults.
“We here in the SW Rotary club believe in service. When deciding how to allocate funds we look at projects that make a positive impact in our community,” said Browne. “A K-9 patrol dog makes a big difference to a vulnerable segment in our community – children and the elderly.”
The Southwest Rotary Club was founded in 1965 and is one of three Rotary Clubs in Wichita Falls. Its 35 members are dedicated to service through such programs as the annual Sporting Clay Shoot and the United States Flag Display Program. “We display flags at area homes during six national, patriotic holidays. Our next Clay Shoot is scheduled for June 12, 2021,” said Browne. “These two key fundraisers bring in about $30,000 annually, which we turn around and give back to the community,”

Another program which the SW Rotary Club funds is the Road to College Program. This program instills the value of education while developing positive school-to-parent relationships and creating a college-going culture for 5th to 12th-grade students and their families. The Road to College Program also offers 80 to 100 6th and 8th graders a six week summer curriculum for four different segments: Academic Enrichment, Supportive Guidance, Nutrition, and Fitness.  
“Recent Road to College students graduated from high school with an average of 27 hours of college credits,” Browne stated. The Southwest Rotary Club pays for the summer program’s teacher stipends as well as providing students with daily lunches.

Browne has been a Rotary Club member since 2015 and says his favorite aspect of Rotary Club is the camaraderie. “I enjoy being part of a group of people who are committed to making Wichita Falls better.” †

 


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