Following the shooting death of Portland Police Bureau (PPB) K-9 "Mick" in 2014, members of the Portland Police Historical Society worked with many volunteers and donors to create a bigger-than-life statue of the police dog – the centerpiece of the Canine Memorial.
The memorial, and the service dedicating it, took place on May 20 at the former Southeast Precinct building on Burnside Street.
One of the many officers at the dedication was PPB Canine Unit Officer Jeff Dorn, the partner of "Mick".
He's still working in the Canine Unit, after 11 years, having partnered first with "Ranger" for eight years, Dorn told THE BEE.
"What attracted me to the Canine Unit work is that you get to go to in-progress crimes calls, and help catch the suspects that are the hardest ones to apprehend," Dorn explained.
He hasn't been on patrol with a human partner over the years, Dorn said. "When you get into it, you don't really recognize how strong a bond forms, until after you been with the dog for a while."
After "Ranger" retired, Dorn had worked with "Mick" for about a month before they were called to a "burglary in progress" call in 2014. A fleeing suspect shot and killed his partner, and he was wounded in the skirmish. He feels Mick's sacrifice saved his life.
Losing his partner so tragically didn't end his enthusiasm for having a canine partner, Dorn told us. "I have a dog in training right now; his name is 'Kahn'."
Also at the service was retired Canine Unit member Rod Lucich, who is now Molalla's Chief of Police.
In 1986, "Argos" became his canine partner, Lucich recalled. "Before our training classes were over, he made his first capture."
From June 5, 1986, until the day he was killed in the line of duty exactly a year later, "Argos" apprehended 84 people. "He was very successful, and really good at most everything he did," reflected Lucich.
"On the night he died, an armed suspect was shooting at officers with multiple weapons," Lucich recalled. "The suspect broke out of the house; the dog came after him as he was trained to do. Whither it was dumb luck or marksmanship, we don't know, but he took a rifle round to his collar, and it killed him.
"That was a very tough day; we all know our job is dangerous, but I don't think we ever let ourselves dwell on that possibility," Lucich said. "Suddenly, I went from riding pretty high and feeling pretty proud of what we were doing, to not knowing if I'd continue with the Canine Unit."
That tragic turn of events took some time to resolve, Lucich conceded. "The dogs live with you all the time, 24/7. When you're in street clothes, they act like a family dog; but, put on the uniform and they are ready to go."
Several people spoke during the dedication service, including PPB Chief of Police Mike Marshman.
"I've seen some of the renderings that look quite nice, but when I actually saw the statue in person – It's a very impressive monument," Marshman said. "Being here, it's quite emotional for us, as we recognize our 'Canine units' who spend countless hours tracking down suspects.
"Canine teams are our partners in every sense of the word: Strong, brave, and loyal," Marshman added. "We won't forget these K-9 partners in the sacrifice that they made in service to our city and its citizens."