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The Riverside police officer struck by lightning while helping with the Joplin tornado died this morning at a Springfield hospital. Jefferson “Jeff” Taylor, who volunteered to go to Joplin, was 31 years old. He is the first Riverside officer ever to die in the line of duty.
“We are heartbroken,” Riverside Police Chief Greg Mills said today in a statement. “Our department, our community and law enforcement as a whole have lost a dedicated professional doing what he did best — helping those who were in need. The fragility of life gives way to the enduring spirit Jeff showed to us all. Our department will never be the same.”
Locked in the back seat of a police cruiser might be the last place you want to be on Memorial Day weekend. A large, muscular police dog stares you down from behind a layer of bulletproof glass, and you begin to wonder what went wrong.
Jackson Police Department K9 Officer Bill Mills said it might have started with alcohol.
Memorial Day weekend is “definitely a party weekend,” said Mills, a 19-year veteran of the department. “People are off work and they start drinking, and it causes more disorderlies and domestic (disturbances).”
The call him “Coach,” including the teens he doesn’t coach in lacrosse.
Or they call him “Shrek,” a tag that stuck from a couple of years back, when, as a big and bald detective clad in green, a colleague noted a resemblance to the movie character. And he’s good with being called by his full name, Anthony Howard Mills.
Most important to Cpl. Tony Mills, 43, is that the students at Anne Arundel County’s Meade High School call him, whether they shout greetings as he rolls down the hall on his scooter, ask to slip into his office for advice or pull him aside about a problem. He also tells responding officers to call him when trouble erupts involving a Meade student.
“I think that I give the kids the time that sometimes they don’t get at home,” Mills says.
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It began as a traffic shop early in the morning on June 9 by a veteran Anchorage police officer. Then the driver pulled a gun and shot officer Jean Mills twice. The suspect, fresh out of prison and wanted on new charges, fled.
The situation turned so bad so quickly, she never had a chance to draw her gun, Mills said Tuesday, telling her story publicly for the first time. She doesn’t second guess herself. She thinks she did everything by the book.
“I knew something was hinky, but it was just so fast,” she said.
Dozens of police officers sped to the DeBarr Road scene, but the shooter was gone. Then, just before midnight, as police were closing in on him in a Spenard neighborhood, the suspect shot himself dead.
“It is really not a game in real life, but to the K-9 it is.”
- K-9 Police Officer Justin Mills
You will find these two Everyday Hero’s in shape, bonded, loyal and on the run, literally. K-9 Police Officer Justin Mills Joined the Marshall Police Department in 2003, he began his career as a K-9 Officer in August 2008.
“I wanted to be a police officer since I was young and I love working with the dogs, so it is a perfect match,” officer Mills said.
K-9 Officer Mills and his K-9 partner Alan are a team. They work together, train together as well as live together
Mills said Alan is a narcotics/patrol dog. Alan is an “aggressive alert” dog; this means that when Alan enters a scene he will scratch and claw when narcotics are suspected. Alan is also patrol apprehension trained as well as a tracking K-9.
“Working as a K-9 officer is a very big job, a lot of work and requires patients,” said Mills. Mills and Alan were certified and received their training with Norm Garner NCIA-K9 in Shrveport, La. The two train at least once a week as well as keep their certification up to date.
For the first time, the University of Arkansas Police Department has acquired two bomb-sniffing dogs.
The German sheperds will be used to patrol the campus and detect for explosives. The dogs will be most important during sporting events, especially at big events like the football games. Reynolds Razorback Stadium can hold a crowd of more than 70,000 people.
The dogs are both trained to protect students and detect potential bombs on campus.
“We want to make a place safe. In this day and time, it’s getting more and more concerned on people’s minds,” said Chris Kordell, UAPD K-9 officer.
“I think anything that ensures a little more security for our students, faculty and staff is probably a really good idea,” said Cindy Sagers, professor in Biological Sciences.At $8,000 a piece, Orno and Dox were purchased by funds secured by the University of Arkansas Athletic Department, for the main purpose of searching athletic venues for suspicious materials.
“Do a sweep usually the night before, the day before to make sure there’s nothing out of the ordinary that they don’t need there,” said Lt. Matt Mills, from the UAPD.
The two K-9s are fully trained and certified along with their handlers.“What an incredible athlete. Watching him work the wind currents is incredible. He stands there and you can just see his nose working,” said Kordell.
It’ll cost the University thousands of dollars a year for constant training and care, but in the long run, students and staff agree it’s worth it to ensure the safety of others.“We have a lot of hog-wild fans, a lot of people very crazy, so protecting all those people is just very important,” said UA sophomore Ron Jones.
“It adds a level of protection for them knowing that an explosives K-9 is available literally at a moment’s notice,” said Mills.
While the football games don’t start for another three months, the K-9s have already been put to use.Last week, they were used for the Wal-Mart Shareholders’ Meeting, and this week, they’ll be patrolling the national track meet.The UAPD and the Bentonville Police Department are the only two law enforcement agencies that have explosive ordinance K-9s in northwest Arkansas.
The UAPD hopes to get state grants to pay for the K-9s’ year-to-year care.
Maine’s 53 newest police officers graduated Friday, May 22, from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. The new officers completed 18 weeks of study and training in many diverse areas such as criminal and traffic enforcement, sexual assault, domestic violence, first aid, firearms and crime scene processing.
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills spoke at commencement.
According to Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland, some of the graduates will be patrolling this weekend.
Graduates working locally include: Officer Daniel P. Fitzpatrick II, Belfast Police; Officer Daniel M. Harlan, Bucksport Police; and Deputy Gerald R. Lincoln Jr., Waldo County Sheriff’s Office.
Officers singled out for outstanding achievement during training included: Gregory R. Roy, Maine State Police recruit, Class Valedictorian; Officer Rory B. Diffin, Cape Elizabeth Police, Academic Proficiency Award and Mechanics of Arrest, Restraint & Control Proficiency Award; Ryan M. Short, Maine State Police recruit, Combined Practical Skills Proficiency Award; Deputy Gerald R. Lincoln Jr., Waldo County Sheriff’s Office, Professionalism Proficiency Award; Deputy Justin S. Drake, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office; Officer Eli G. Poore, Berwick Police and Officer Andrew L. Redden, Rockland Police, Firearms Proficiency Awards; Gregory R. Roy, Maine State Police recruit, Emergency Vehicle Operation Course Proficiency Award; Officer Susan M. Ruby, Sanford Police, Physical Fitness Proficiency Award; and Officer Mathew T. McNutt, Biddeford Police, Randall Parsons Iron-Man Award.
Nero would rather chase a ball, but the skills he is learning could someday help Jackson police find drugs or criminals.
Nero is learning to track down suspects and evidence for the Jackson Police Department.
The 17-month-old Dutch shepherd is the newest addition to the city’s K-9 police unit.
Still a little wet behind the ears, Nero goes through training most Thursdays with Officer William Mills to develop the skills it will take for him to earn his certifications from theNational Association of Professional Canine Handlers.
Nero is certified in searching for narcotics and is more than halfway — by Mills’ standards — to being certified for searching.
“For where he is at today, he is doing phenomenal,” Mills said of Nero. “He has courage and confidence. Nothing bothers him. He is a real sure-of-himself dog.”
When Mills got Nero on Dec. 2 from an Indiana kennel, the dog had no training. Now, Mills is confident Nero will be a great police dog.
“There was just something about him I liked,” Mills said. “He is not skittish, and he has epic ball drive.”
A trained police dog can cost about $15,000, but Mills said the city spent $5,000 on Nero.
The dog wants nothing more than to get to play with his ball, so it is critical to his training.
Watching attentively and semi-patiently, Nero waits for Mills to give the command that it is OK for him to play with the ball.
“He has to understand it is what I want him to do and not do,” Mills said.
Whenever Nero does not follow commands, Mills slightly tugs at a leash attached to a pinch collar so Nero knows he has done something wrong.
Nero responds to two Dutch commands for releasing and attacking.
Beggy, a 12-year-old German shepherd, was Mills’ partner before Nero. There was a retirement ceremony Tuesday for Beggy.
Bella, a 2-year-old German shepherd, was supposed to be Beggy’s successor, but officers learned during training she had a spinal-cord disease. Now, Mills said he is unsure how many days Bella has left to live.
The city has one other police dog, Zygos, a German shepherd who is handled by Officer Steve Scarpino.
The dogs are a full-time job for Mills. He lives with Bella, Beggy and Nero, plus a Jack Russell terrier.
“It’s a passion,” Mills said about training police dogs. “You have to love it.”
Aside from normal shifts, Mills trains with Nero once a week with several other police dogs from this area and as far away as Monroe and Ann Arbor.
A Kansas City police officer suffered broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder and severe skin lacerations when the driver of a Chrysler LeBaron ran him off Interstate 435 in September.
Police later found the car abandoned near some apartments in the 6400 block of Manchester Avenue and requested a police dog.
Officer Nevenko Mikic and his dog, Laica, showed up and followed a scent from the car to a discarded red jersey along a tree line. They continued into the woods and Laica became interested in something under a concrete storm drain.
Mikic remembered passing by the entrance to the storm drain so he returned there, where he saw a man’s feet sticking out. Mikic ordered the man out and the man was not wearing a shirt.
Police told the man he had hit a police officer and the man replied: “I know. I’m sorry.” Prosecutors later charged the man with two felonies and three misdemeanors.
For their actions on Sept. 2, Kansas City police today plan to honor Mikic and Laica with certificates of commendation at a ceremony at police headquarters.
Other officers and their awards expected today:
Officer Matt Bruner, life-saving award, for catching a woman who had collapsed and performing abdominal thrusts to dislodge a meatball at a Fourth of July party. Paramedics said his alertness and quick actions probably saved her life.
Officers Phil Gray, William Hooley and Justin Palmer, certificates of commendation, for stopping a gunman who was shooting into a crowd after a party at the Tropical Palms reception hall in the 5600 block of E. 87th Street on June 29. Six party-goers were shot; one fatally.
Watch III of the communications unit, special unit citation, for their work coordinating the complex and chaotic crime scene after a gunman began shooting shoppers at the Ward Parkway shopping center on April 29, 2007.
Reserve Sgt. Hugh Mills, certificate of commendation, for using the department helicopter to rescue two stranded kayakers on July 26, 2008.
State Trooper Steve Mills and his dog, Vader, are moving from Jackson to Sault Ste. Marie.
“The position came open, they offered the transfer to me, so I took it,” said Mills.
Wednesday was the duo’s last day at the Jackson post. They did training in Ypsilanti on Thursday and will begin work in Sault Ste. Marie in December after Mills takes a hunting vacation.
His departure will leave the Jackson post without a police dog likely until spring, said Lt. Jim Shaw, the post commander.
If local state police need a dog, Jackson city police, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and Blackman Township have K-9 officers, Shaw said.
There also are other nearby posts with dogs, said Shaw, who commended Mills for his work in Jackson.
Mills and Vader, a 3-year-old German shepherd, handled about 1,300 calls for service, successfully tracked 61 people and made about 116 narcotics finds, Shaw said.
“He’s just a dedicated individual,” Shaw said of Mills, whom he called “a problem solver.”
“It’s not just what he did, it’s how he did it.”
Mills worked well with families and always responded at a moment’s notice, Shaw said. He tracked felons and visited schools with Vader.
Mills said he will miss the people, and the transition might be tough.
“It will be a change. I hate to leave this post here. It is not the greatest time to sell your house for sure, and moving the family and what not is going to be a little bit difficult, but it is part of the job.”
Mills, who has a wife and three sons, worked as a trooper in Manistee for seven years before going to the state police dog-handling school and moving to Jackson in 2000.
At that time, he worked with a dog, Drake, who retired in 2006 and died last spring.