by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Sometimes I look through our archives to find articles for this column. Such was the case last week when I found an article that appeared in The Examiner on January 23, 1993. That was when Grain Valley Police Sergeant Scott Lambert and Officer Scott Hedger were training their Rottweilers, Magnum and Sampson, for a career in the Grain Valley Police Department.
According to the article, the extensive training and ongoing education received by the dogs and their handlers make them valuable members of police departments and provide not only a much-needed police tool, but also a supplemental source of income for the department.
Magnum and Sampson, along with their handlers were trained at Man’s Best Friend Kennels in Belton, Missouri. Mike Reynolds, the owner, stated that the key to any successful police dog candidate “is the same as for any human job applicant: the right personality.” If the dog is vicious or unfriendly instead of playful and social, it’s generally ruled out as a police dog candidate. The second key trait is its drive. According to Reynolds the dog exhibits drive in the way it acts and how excited and playful it becomes. A good police dog considers searching a building, sniffing a car for drugs, or protecting its handler to be a positive, playful activity.
While Magnum was used strictly as a drug dog and for handler protection, Hedger’s dog, Sampson, became a familiar sight around Grain Valley. He was trained as a drug dog, but also as a patrol dog. Over the years, Officer Hedger gave several demonstrations to community groups and Sampson was introduced to DARE classes to show the usefulness of dogs in other aspects of police work.
In September, 1993, the Jackson County legislature authorized county Prosecutor Claire McCaskill to spend $9,900 from the anti-drug tax. An article in The Examiner, dated September 2, 1983 stated “…the new dog would be placed with the Grain Valley Police Department, but would be available for other law enforcement agencies in Eastern Jackson County.”
It has been 30 years, but it is always good to be reminded that our town “took the lead"!