Town’s K9 officer retires; handler leaves department

The Nashville Metropolitan Police Department has lost two of its veterans: one to retirement and one to another job.

Assistant Chief Tim True submitted his resignation during the last week of February. This week, he started working for a Columbus Regional Hospital ambulance crew as an emergency medical technician.

True’s K-9 partner, Biker — who will turn 9 on April 9 — was medically retired last month.The cavity around Biker’s heart had filled with blood, putting pressure on it. He has gone through a couple procedures to drain it and veterinarian decided he can no longer work, True said. He now must take heart medication twice a day for the rest of his life.

On Feb. 15, the Nashville Town Council voted to give Biker to True as a gift, which was the agreement they had at the beginning of their partnership, Chief of Police Seastrom said. This releases the town from financial obligation from future medical bills and allows Biker to live out his days with the True family.

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Biker and True and been partnered since January 2012, about a year after True joined the Nashville Police Department.

The German shepherd came to the department from North Carolina as a 2-year-old, and very quickly he established himself as an asset.

By March, he and True had won the overall championship in the regional American Police Canine Association Winter Sniff-Out. Among the skills they demonstrated was detecting narcotics in a vehicle in three seconds.

From the beginning, Biker was highly receptive to retrieving tennis balls and being rewarded for finding them, True said.

“It’s not work for them. It’s all about a game. It’s all about finding the ball or the toy,” True told The Democrat last year. “When he gets out of the car, he’s looking for a ball. He doesn’t know what marijuana is. He’s looking for that ball.”

Biker and True were trained in suspect apprehension and person-tracking as well as narcotics detection. The pair trained at least 16 hours a month in sniffing.

The dog became a member of True’s family. “It’s amazing the bond that you build,” True said last year. “He will follow me wherever I go.”

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department has two police dogs. Seastrom told the town council he’d like to see the Nashville police get another K-9, but they’re going to hold off for now while they train officers.

When the Brown County (Nashville) Volunteer Fire Department temporarily stopped responding to medical calls last spring, True, an EMT, had started trying to train Nashville Police officers to become emergency medical responders, but the turnover in the police department made that difficult. When the exact shift he needed to work with his family’s schedule came open at CRH, he knew he had to take it, he said.

Four full-time officers are left on the department besides Seastrom, with one more slot open for a new hire to replace True. The most experienced officer behind Seastrom is Keith Lawson, who was hired last March. Two of the four are studying at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield until June.

The department also has three part-time officers, a grant-funded crisis intervention advocate and three volunteer reserve officers they can ask to help when needed.

Until a new officer is hired, Seastrom is working more shifts and pulling in help from his part-timers.

“The good part is, I like to work, so it means I get to go do it,” Seastrom said.

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Sara Clifford has been raising a family in Brown County since 2005 and leading the Brown County Democrat since late 2009. In addition to editor, she is the beat reporter for town government and writes columns, features and general news stories.