Roy City Police Department retires K-9 officer after 5 years of service
ROY — After five years of service with the Roy City Police Department, K-9 officer Mik has been retired from active duty. The dual-purpose dog, a German shepherd-Belgian Malinois mix, had served on patrol, as well as on narcotics cases.
Mik will spend his post-service days living with his handler at RCPD, Officer Preston Johnson.
“It’s bittersweet,” Johnson told the Standard-Examiner of his partner’s retirement. “It’s a lot less stress you have to deal with at work. Now, you just come to work and you don’t have to worry about it. But I miss the exciting parts of it. … We’ve been to Summit County, helped out with the marshals, all over Davis, Weber County. It’s been a lot of fun. So, I miss that part.”
Johnson estimates that he and Mik put in thousands of hours working together on the force, noting that the canine spent 10 hours per week on training alone. Over time, he became keenly aware of the nuances of Mik’s behavior in a myriad of situations.
“He would do little things, like his back would hunch up, just little things like that. Things that, after doing it so long, you would notice. When we actually found where drugs were, he’d start to scratch and bite things,” Johnson said.
On one occasion while tracking a suspect, Mik pulled Johnson into a driveway and started to bark and scratch at an SUV parked there, as if he was trying to crawl inside from below. After the homeowner gave permission to search the vehicle, the suspect was found hiding in the trunk under some clothing.
In August 2020, Mik was seriously injured while pursuing a suspect near 2300 North in Clinton. The dog was chasing the suspect through a field and, after Johnson gave a bite command, the person turned and started firing shots at both of them.
Said Johnson: “We had no idea the guy had a gun. So, had it not been for (Mik), it probably would have been a lot worse. For sure.”
As a result of the incident, Mik suffered permanent nerve damage to his jaw and was kept out of action for multiple months. The dog was eventually able to return to duty, but lingering medical issues would ultimately result in his retirement.
“He could still work today, but just, physically, his mouth has not been very good,” Johnson noted. “It was time.”
Retirement has been an adjustment for Mik. Johnson said that the canine struggled for “the first week or two,” adding that police dogs are trained and working from the puppy stage. However, Mik is now growing accustomed to his new life.
RCPD’s public information officer, Stuart Hackworth, told the Standard-Examiner that the department has had K-9 officers since the late 1990s. There have typically been two K-9 officers on the force, and the expectation is that there will be two dogs once more later this year.
Meanwhile, Johnson noted that the dogs enjoy their work and aren’t overly aggressive.
“Everybody sees these police dogs and say, ‘They’re mean. They just want to hurt people,’ and they really don’t,” he said.
He likened the dynamic to civilian dog owners and their pets playing with rope toys and indicated that there are “very limited times” a K-9 officer can actually bite someone.
“That’s what they live for. For Mik, his reward was the tug. So, any time he found the drugs, I threw the toy and it was just a big game of tug. That was his paycheck — that toy. So, he didn’t get it unless he did his job. … They’re not (biting) to be mean, they’re doing it based off of movement and the actions (suspects) are taking. They’re just biting the tug toy, essentially.”