German shepherd joins Auburn police force, named for late officer

Posted July 03, 2013, at 6:19 a.m.
Last modified July 03, 2013, at 8:30 a.m.
Auburn Police Officer Tyler Ham demonstrates Rocky's obedience skills in Vassalboro on Friday.
Amber Waterman | Sun Journal
Auburn Police Officer Tyler Ham demonstrates Rocky's obedience skills in Vassalboro on Friday.

AUBURN, Maine — The city’s newest police force member is a 2-year-old German shepherd named in honor of a local officer who was killed in the line of duty 32 years ago.

Rocky appeared Monday at a City Council meeting, where he took the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor along with his handler, Patrol Officer Tyler Ham.

Rocky is named for the late Officer Rodney “Rocky” Bonney, who died April 6, 1981, while attempting to save a 15-year-old boy who had fallen into the Androscoggin River from the railroad trestle that connects Lewiston and Auburn. Bonney and the Lewiston boy slipped beneath the strong current and their bodies weren’t recovered until the next day.

Bonney’s widow, Cherrie, got to meet her husband’s canine namesake for the first time on Monday and “pinned” on his badge.

During the ceremony, Rocky received a new ballistics vest courtesy of Wayne Robichaud of Oxford and his family, who raise money for vests to donate to K9 officers across Maine. The vest, complete with Auburn Police Department patches and the dog’s name, will protect Rocky as he works the road with Ham. The Robichauds raise money for the K9 vests through their website, www.mainek9vests.com, and through donation cans placed in stores across Maine.

The family has made it its mission to ensure that every police dog in the state receives a vest to protect it from harm. This labor of love, which began as a school project by the Robichaud’s oldest daughter in 2009, has become a family affair thanks to the help of the Robichauds ’ two young sons.

Rocky and Ham join K9 Dutch, who has been working with his handler, Cpl. Kris Bouchard, since 2010. Rocky replaces Inka, who retired in February after six years of service with her handler, Cpl. Scott Corey. Ham and Rocky graduated recently from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy K9 School, an intensive 14-week K9 training program.

“These dogs work incredibly hard,” Police Chief Phil Crowell said. “They expand our law enforcement capabilities and they have a lot of heart. We are proud to have Rocky join our team. He is dedicated and very intelligent. With his namesake, he has some very big shoes to fill.”

 

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