Winter Park-Fraser detective wins K-9 award
It was a cold February night in Hot Sulphur Springs when Brittany King-Graham, 22, slipped quietly through the front door of the Grand County Jail while on work detail.
With the town whitewashed in snow and plunged in mid-winter darkness, a manhunt seemed like a daunting task.
Winter Park-Fraser Police Detective Brett Schroetlin and his K-9 Argo were dispatched to assist in the search.
At first Schroetlin and Argo tried a “blind track” from the jail, but when that was unsuccessful, Argo was given an article of clothing to help him acquire the scent.
He began tracking southbound past the sheriff’s office.
“The sequence of the track wasn’t quite making sense, so we knew that our suspect had to be in that area,” said Schroetlin.
Then Argo hit on a vehicle on Moffat Avenue.
A sheriff’s deputy noticed the vehicle’s windows were fogged, and a short while later, King-Graham was back in custody.
Winter Park-Fraser Police Chief Glenn Trainor presented Schroetlin and Argo with an award from the National Police Canine Association for their work in apprehending King-Graham at the Sept. 3 Winter Park Town Council meeting.
“Most likely, that suspect would not have been found without the dog,” Schroetlin said.
Schroetlin received a plaque, while Argo, now 4 ½ years old, got a rawhide bone.
“It’s always rewarding to be recognized by your peers and especially at the national level,” Schroetlin said. “It’s always great.”
The excitement wasn’t lost on Argo, either, who barked excitedly when he received his savory award.
A winning partnership
Schroetlin, who had previous experience with K-9s, started working with Argo in 2012.
“It’s one of the most rewarding parts of my job just because the dog is always willing to work, is always motivated and doesn’t have biases like humans have,” Schroetlin said.
Argo, one of two K-9s in the county, regularly trains with both Schroetlin and a contracted trainer.
“It’s very intensive as far as training,” Schroetlin said. “We have to do a lot of training hours to keep up with national standards.”
The duo’s new award is a testament to the efficacy of their training, but Argo isn’t just an asset for the department because of his sensitive nose, Schroetlin says.
A furry face and wagging tail go along way in terms of community engagement.
“We want that dog to be out there,” Schroetlin said. “We want the kids at the school to be able to see that dog. It kind of bridges that gap between the community and law enforcement.”
Schroetlin is still reluctant to pin the success of the Hot Sulphur Springs case on either himself or Argo, adding that the other law enforcement agencies involved were crucial to their success.
“It’s not just one person or one dog that makes this happen,” Schroetlin said. “It’s the whole team aspect of it.”
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.
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