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K9 Stash, a Belgian Malinois trained in narcotics detection and patrol work, has joined the Bristol Tennessee Police Department as Officer Eric Keller’s newest partner.
Stash was born in Holland and brought to the United States for training as a police dog by Tri-State Canine Services of Warren, Ohio. After being chosen as the newest member of the BTPD’s K9 unit, he remained in Ohio to complete five weeks of additional training with Officer Keller. The two are now certified through the North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA) to detect methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine, and to conduct specialized patrol work including article searches and criminal apprehensions.
A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Officer Keller trained as a K9 handler for a short time during his four-year military career and expressed an interest in continuing that career path when he joined the BTPD six years ago. After working in the patrol division for five years and completing a one-year stint in the Criminal Investigations Division, he was named the City’s fourth K9 officer earlier this year. Lt. Matt Cousins, a veteran K9 Officer and BTPD’s K9 Unit Supervisor, traveled to Ohio with Officer Keller to help him select a new partner.
“We evaluated all the dogs and initially narrowed it down to three,” Officer Keller said, explaining that more than a dozen dogs were available to choose from. “Stash was just the one that stuck out to us the most.”
Belgian Malinois are known for being smart, confident, and hardworking and for forging unbreakable bonds with their human partners. When not on duty, Stash lives with Officer Keller and his family.
The BTPD’s K9 Unit now consists of Officer Keller and Stash; Lt. Cousins and K9 Kai, who are trained in patrol work and explosives detection; Sgt. Joe Newman and K9 Nash, who are trained in narcotics detection; and Officer Chesney Roark and K9 Sonny, who are trained at narcotics detection, article searches, and tracking. Officer Keller and Stash are assigned to the Patrol Division’s night shift.
Each of the K9 teams spend 16 hours or more a month training together and must be recertified through NAPWDA each year.
For additional information, please contact Capt. Justin Bush at (423) 989-3453.