Lakeport Police Department Implements Police Dog Program

The Lakeport Police Department (LPD) has implemented a new program with Police K-9 Olin officially serving the Lakeport community along with his handler, Officer Kaylene Strugnell.  The department has been without a police dog since 2009.

Planning began in the fall of 2018 when the LPD presented the Lakeport City Council with a request to apply for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) community facilities grant funding to start the K9 Unit.  The City Council supported and authorized the request. The city received a grant of approximately $38,000 to be used in combination with other private and public funding to establish the program, which includes a state-of-the art patrol vehicle with built-in protection for the dog.

The LPD had approximately $40,000 in other law enforcement grant and asset forfeiture funds reserved for the program.  Additional funding and a nonprofit partner were needed to build and sustain the program. 

In April 2019, the LPD submitted a proposal to the Sean M. Walsh K-9 Memorial Foundation for funding to purchase the dog.  The foundation, which has served communities nationwide since 2012, awarded a grant in the amount of $10,000 to purchase the dog.

Sean Walsh was a Military Police (MP) soldier in the California National Guard serving in Operation Enduring Freedom when he was killed in action in the Khost Province of Afghanistan on November 16, 2011. Walsh was focused on his goal to be a police officer, serving as an Explorer Cadet with the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Department, and then with the Santa Clara Police Department.

Walsh joined the Army National Guard as an MP at the age of 18 to gain additional experience toward his goal. After returning from deployment, Sean’s plans were to continue his education and become a Cadet with the Santa Clara PD, where he hoped to join their ranks as a police officer. He was dedicated to his goal of becoming a law enforcement officer; during his Afghanistan deployment, Sean vigorously studied and memorized the California Penal Code, preparing himself to become a police cadet.

Inspired in part by his love for animals and the adoption of an abandoned German Shepherd when he was 12, Sean’s dream and ultimate goal was to be a law enforcement officer with a K-9 partner.

Sean’s friends and family established the Sean M. Walsh K-9 Memorial Foundation with the main goal of assisting law enforcement agencies to establish a K-9 team in memory of Walsh. The LPD K-9 Olin is the 32nd K-9 made possible by grants from Sean’s K-9’s.

In December 2020, the Lucerne Area Revitalization Association (LARA) offered to serve as the nonprofit partner and donated the startup funds for the Lakeport Police K-9 account.  After this account was created, two local citizens donated $4,000 and $5,000, respectively, for the program.  Local businesses have made significant contributions for program infrastructure.

A significant partner is Bruno’s Shop Smart and their parent company, C&K Markets, who make donations based on customers signing up and connecting their club cards to the LPD canine program.  This program does not cost the customer; C&K Markets makes a donation from every purchase made by the customer. 

Susie Q’s Donuts is starting a major fundraiser this month by selling Support Lakeport Police K-9 Program coffee cups with raffle tickets for a chance to win a major prize. Lake County News, another program partner, has donated startup funding for this fundraiser.

In May of this year, based on the support of the USDA, Sean’s K-9’s, local businesses, nonprofit partner LARA, local community members, and city and police department staff, the LPD was able to select its K-9, Olin. He and Officer Strugnell took their initial six weeks of training through CJ’s Police K-9’s in Novato.

Training was completed on June 25 and Olin and Officer Strugnell started working together on June 29.  Olin is trained in narcotic detection including methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine, as well as patrol certification including suspect tracking and apprehension. 

Lakeport Chief of Police Brad Rasmussen said, “I am excited to once again have a police canine serving the Lakeport community; the police department appreciates all the public support, without which this program would not be possible.” 

Officer Strugnell said, “I have had the pleasure of training with Olin and I am looking forward to working with him in our community. Olin loves his work and is very proficient and dedicated.”

Police K-9 Olin will be formally introduced to the community during the Lakeport City Council meeting on July 20, the first in-person session open to the public since March of 2020.

Community support will be important to maintain this program which has an estimated annual cost of $15,000. Contributions may be provided by making donations to the Lakeport Police K-9 nonprofit and the Susie Q’s Donuts fundraiser, to future fundraising events, and by participating in the Bruno’s Shop Smart program. 

For more information, contact Chief Rasmussen, Lieutenant Dale Stoebe, Officer Strugnell or K-9 Unit Supervisor Sergeant Victor Rico, at the Lakeport Police Department, 707-263-5491, or by email, info@lakeportpolice.org.

Learn about Sean’s K-9s at www.seansk9s.org

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