MIDVALE (ABC4 News) – One of Unified Police Department’s hardest working narcotics officers works noon to midnight to get illegal drugs off the streets…he never complains and never asks for a vacation or a raise.
All Officer Otto asks for is a scratch on the head and a tennis ball and his handler Officer Jason Graf is always happy to provide those.
With a furry face, floppy ears, and a perpetually wagging tail, Otto is not what you picture when you hear the term “police K9”.
“People always laugh when they see him jump out of the truck,” Officer Graf told Behind The Badge. “They always tell me ‘That’s your own dog. That’s not a police dog’.”
Officer Graf has been his handler since April.
“Otto is a Jagdterrier. He’s two years old to my knowledge…and he likes to find drugs,” Officer Graf said. “He searches for heroin, marijuana, meth, and cocaine.”
Otto and Officer Graf are now inseparable. He lives with Graf and his family and every morning before they start their shift, you can usually find them exercising.
“I bike three miles and he runs three miles,” Officer Graf said. “It gets some of his energy a little more manageable…He wants to sniff everything. He’s very curious. As you saw, as soon as he met you guys he was instantly smelling your bags and car and checking out what was going on.”
That curiosity and a highly trained nose makes Otto perfect for sniffing out illegal drugs whether he’s making the rounds at the Midvale Family Homeless Shelter or on a traffic stop.
“His reward is a tug toy which he thinks is just the greatest thing ever,” Officer Graf said. “He always wants to play. He will play all day long. You can throw a ball and he’ll just keep chasing it until he just collapses because he’s so tired.”
The “Otto-Graf” partnership is working out famously. Officer Graf says it’s the fulfillment of his lifelong dream.
“I always wanted to be a police officer for the reasons I always wanted to do something where I thought I could make a difference and help people,” Officer Graf said. “I hope we have a long career of finding a lot of drugs and getting that off the street because I think that’s one of the things if you can get that off the streets you’ve made a difference that day.”
It seems that everybody loves Otto except drug dealers and squirrels.
Officer Graf tells me that whenever Otto sees a squirrel, he starts a different kind of high-speed pursuit.
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