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Town’s K-9 unit response ready

By Staff | Apr 9, 2010

Patrolman James Cummings and “Turk” — the newest member of Shepherdstown’s police force — stand ready for duty. Photo by Daniel Friend/Chronicle

Shepherdstown Patrolman James Cummings has a new partner.

“Turk,” a Belgian shepherd, has proven himself an able backup since becoming part of the local police force early this year.

Cummings recently responded to a scene in which a group of people locked themselves in a vehicle after fleeing on foot and refused to cooperate. The group locked the doors. Cummings brought Turk to the side of the vehicle, which contained ammunition and drugs police could plainly see from outside the vehicle, Chief Tim Johnson confirmed this week.

“Either you come out of the car on your own, or I break the window and the dog comes in,” Cummings yelled to the driver. Instantly, everyone in the vehicle got out and cooperated with Cummings for the remainder of the incident, he said.

“He’s very protective of me,” Cummings said. “In the car, that’s his and mine. He doesn’t want anybody else around it.”

Cummings’ wife acquired Turk last June. The dog was certified by the State of Arkansas K-9 Academy for narcotics detection and building searches. Cummings and Turk have since completed the four-week West Virginia K-9 Academy and plan to get Federal certification as well.

In small departments like Shepherdstown’s a K-9 can serve as a valuable tool, doing building sweeps and searches and allowing a single officer to handle situations where additional manpower would normally be required.

Shepherdstown Police Chief Tim Johnsons said Turk already has proven his worth. Cummings recently responded with the K-9 to a Harpers Ferry drug bust in which about $2,000 in cash was seized. Because Turk helped with the incident, the Harpers Ferry department plans to share the cash with Shepherdstown. It can be used to help fund the K-9 unit’s drug enforcement work.

The town has set up a special K-9 fund for community members who wish to support “Turk” with food, toys, equipment and veterinary care. Contact SPD at (304) 876-6036 or stop by the South Princess Street department to learn more.