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New K9 officer joins police force

Connersville Police Officer Josh Durstine and his new K9 partner Simon graduated from training in late October.

By DARRELL SMITH - dsmith@newsexaminer.com

Three law enforcement K9 officers are now patrolling Connersville and Fayette County after Connersville Police Officer Josh Durstine and his new K9 graduated from training in late October.

K9 Simon is a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois and German shepherd cross, known as a Mal X, originally from Hungary. Durstine said. 

Simon joins Leo, who partners with CPD Lt. Kevin Perry, and Zeno, who partners with Fayette County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Kyle McMurry as K9 officers in the county.

“Being a K9 officer goes along with being a police officer,” Durstine said. “You want to use the tools you have to help people. A dog in the city is a useful tool in multiple ways.”

He had asked to become a K9 officer when the department decided to get another dog.

The department has been without a second police dog since Diesel, K9 partner with Capt. Chris Scott, died after being struck by a vehicle nearly a year ago.

Durstine picked out Simon from other dogs because of his mannerisms.

“It was like one of those things, I was walking him and I felt the bond,” he said. “We clicked. I think he will be a great addition to the police force. He’s well mannered and doesn’t get bothered by other animals.”

The two began their training in early September.

“It is very intense for the handler and the dog because you’re constantly doing different stages of training,” he said. “We have long days training for narcotics, apprehension and tracking.”

Simon is trained in the Dutch language. Durstine has a hard time pronouncing some of the commands. Using them every day in training, has helped, he said.

The department purchased the dog from Vohne Liche Kennels near Peru, Indiana, and that is where Durstine received the training.

Police Chief Carol McQueen said a donation from Conner Community Development to the department made possible the purchase of Simon and the training.

The two partners hit the road together for the first time Oct. 27. Simon has not located any narcotics or apprehended anyone, Durstine said. But Simon is always ready to go. He whines when he’s out in the yard because he thinks it is time to go to work.

“I love dogs and always had a passion of working with dogs,” he said. “What a better thing that to be a police officer and work with dogs at the same time?”

He has young children at home and they have gotten along well with Simon. His own two dogs have received the new member of the family well.

Simon was to meet the other two K9 officers Tuesday so they could learn to work together.

“It is like bringing a new member to the pack, you have to do it slowly, but he is a really good dog, well mannered,” he said. “He’s like a member of the family because you get attached to them, like one of the kids. You form a bond and he is my partner when I’m at work.”

Like Leo and Zeno, Simon is ready to go to schools or clubs for demonstrations.