Officer of the Year Shawn Murray: Man's best partner - K-9 Officer Loki

Officer Shawn Murray patrols the town in his cruiser — a different one from every other vehicle in the department — along with his partner, K-9 Officer Loki, who sits in a special back-seat compartment.

The 4-year-old German shepherd helps Murray keep the residents of Ridgefield safe, but he wouldn’t have been given the chance if Murray hadn’t championed the town’s dog officer program by planning, fund-raising, and organizing it back in 2006.

His dedication to this life-saving program — and community favorite — has earned him the Officer of the Year award for his performance in 2016.

“It’s nice to have a second set of eyes,” Murray told The Press. “It’s a security blanket for you. If anything goes wrong, you know the dog backs you up all the time.”

The program is privately funded through community donations.

“It’s a huge asset to the community,” said Capt. Jeff Kreitz, “even just the tracking to find lost or missing people.”

Proving their worth

Murray has been an officer for 25 years, 20 of which have been with the Ridgefield Police Department.

His first five were in Missouri, where he first discovered his passion for K-9 police work.

“I went out and got donations and everything for the dog — it was a lot of money to get everything started,” he said.

“You have to go out and talk to the selectmen, the mayor, the police commission and everything…

“They were all on board — dogs prove their worth right off the bat.”

Zeus

Loki is Murray’s second K-9 partner. The first was another German shepherd — Zeus — who retired after eight years of service, and was later euthanized because of a hip displacement disorder.

“That’s more than the average for a police dog,” said Murray.

“It’s a lot of wear and tear on the dog.“

Zeus’ passing was emotional for the whole town, according to both Kreitz and Murray.

He was sent off with a community behind him, there for him as he made his final ride to the veterinary.

“It was amazing the impact the dog had on the community and the amount of people that came out to support us, Shawn, and the dog,” said Kreitz.

Loki

Loki and Zeus met after the older dog’s retirement. Loki was brought in from Hungary at 13 months to step in for Zeus.

They both lived with Murray and his family, but a police dog is not a family pet.

“You can’t treat him like a family dog, he’s a working dog,” he said.

“He gets toys, those are his rewards,” he added. “We try not to to do anything with food with him.”

Even so, he’s a valued member of the Murray family.

“My kid, he’s 3 years old and that’s his buddy,” said Murray.

“He looks after him and everything — gives him kisses all the time.”

Officer Loki is not shy about petting, and is welcoming toward both children and adults, his handler said.

“If you want to pet Loki, ask me to pet him — I have no problem,” said Murray. “He’s good with people — Zeus was a little different, he was very protective of me.”

During his time on the force, Loki has been able to track armed suspects and prevent a suicide.

“Loki was able to find him unconscious in the woods,” said Murray.

“Without a dog, we wouldn’t have found him that night,” he added.

‘God of mischief’

Despite his reputation for being a friendly officer, Loki got his name thanks to some early  troublemaking on the force.

“The first weekend that I had him, he figured out how to break out of his kennel,” said his partner. “I brought him in another cruiser, and he figured out how to open where the prisoner stays. The new K-9 then jumped into the front of the cruiser where he tore Murray’s front seat microphone up.

After a naming contest, the department chose a fitting label for it newest officer: Loki, the god of mischief.

Public relations

Being a police officer in Ridgefield means getting to know the residents — something that both Loki and Murray take in stride.

“He does a lot of public relations,” said Murray.

“In his canine demonstrations, we talk about the dog: all his responsibilities and duties, show his obedient side and how he responds to me by voice and hand signals.”

Depending on the audience, Loki will also show his bite work — but not if there are children present.

“Locating narcotics, that’s probably his main job — we do the demo with narcotics by hiding drugs in one of our cars,” said Murray.

He foresees an exemplary career for Loki.

As for the officer who handles the dog, Murray has already made his mark. The canine program is a valuable asset to the Ridgefield police force — and it’s all thanks to the cop from Missouri.  

“He’s very modest — doesn’t give himself enough credit,” said Kreitz, “but he made it all happen.”