BARTLESVILLE, Okla. -- A new police officer started to patrol the streets this week, and he owes his job to the generosity of the community.
A massive community fundraiser helped Sgt. Troy Newell with the Bartlesville Police Department replace his retiring K9 partner with a new police dog.
Atlas, a two-year-old German shepherd, joined Sgt. Newell this week for the first time after completing his required training.
"The community gave over $30,000 for our fundraising and by just being gracious to us," Sgt. Newell said. "Bartlesville is a great community and place to live and work."
He said that much money overwhelmed the police department and allowed it to do more than it ever intended. In addition to buying Atlas, police purchased two other K9s, which are both still in training for the next three to four months. Police also upgraded their patrol cars with equipment to better protect the valuable dogs.
"We now have Ace K9 Watchdog systems that will let us know if the carbon monoxide levels get too high. It will call us. It will call dispatch. It will let certain officers know so that we can get in there and get the dog out," Sgt. Newell said. "If it gets too hot in the vehicle, it does the same thing. It lets us know along with the windows rolling down and an exhaust fan kicking on to help cool down the dog until we're able to get there."
The donations began coming in last year after police said they could not afford to replace Sgt. Newell's retiring partner, Apollo, and another older police dog, Diesel.
Diesel will remain on the job until his replacement finishes training, but Sgt. Newell said Apollo is already getting used to an enjoyable life in retirement.
"It was a little bit of an adjustment for him to see Dad going to work with another dog instead of him, but I've kind of refocused that energy in different ways," Sgt. Newell said, smiling. "He gets to take walks with me at night and things like that now to refocus that energy, make it a little easier for him, trying to transition him into being more of a pet."
Police will now utilize Atlas to sniff out drugs, like marijuana, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. His main job will be stopping crime on the streets, but Atlas brings the added benefit of boosting morale at the police station and connecting with neighbors in a positive way.
"It kind of makes us more approachable, if you will, because we have the dog," Sgt. Newell said. "It strikes up the conversation with people about their dog, and then they think of us more as a person so that we can build stronger relationships."
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