New police dog added to Benton County force

Tyler Richardson, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 5, 2014 

Egon Hansen Train

Egon, Benton County Sheriff's Office new police dog, practices with a bite sleeve Wednesday with his handler deputy Brett Hansen, right, and the agency's other dog handler, deputy Horacio Gonzalez.

BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Benton County's newest police dog tore a padded arm guard off a deputy with ease Wednesday and violently shook it in his mouth.

Within seconds, Egon, a 2-year-old German shepherd, had dropped the sleeve on command and was lying at the feet of his handler.

The display of power and control was a glimpse into the training Egon received in the last 10 weeks as he worked to become the sheriff's department's second certified police dog.

Egon is now on patrol, helping Deputy Brett Hansen search for suspects and evidence at crime scenes.

"He is really starting to pick it up," Hansen said Wednesday after he introduced Egon in the sheriff's office at the Benton County Justice Center in Kennewick. "A lot of it entails him learning to obey me and me learning to give commands correctly."

Egon was imported from Germany and the sheriff's office bought him for $8,900, officials said. Tri-City handlers hand-picked Egon from a kennel in Monroe. Other police dogs in the Tri-Cities have come from the same facility.

The sheriff's office has had only one police dog since 2008 and has had as many as four in the past, said Lt. Chuck Jones. The number of service dogs in the department dwindled with budget cuts and retirements. Dogs usually serve between six and eight years.

Egon started working with Hansen in November and has been learning how to check buildings for suspects, take down suspects on the run and track scents.

Egon spent 10 weeks and 400 hours training with Hansen and the Kennewick Police Department. Kennewick police Officer Brad Kohn helped lead the training.

Egon was called into action for the first time Tuesday when he tried to find a suspect in Richland who led police on a car chase.

Deputy Horacio Gonzalez, who handles the sheriff's office's other dog, Jago, said he was impressed with Egon and how he performed. Gonzalez will guide Hansen and Egon for the next month as they get used to patrol duties.

"(Egon) did very good. We were able to locate where the (suspect) went through the bushes and dropped his hat," Gonzalez said. "We tracked him all the way to Leslie Road. It was a good experience for Egon."

When Egon is not chasing criminals or helping to protect deputies, he roams the backyard at Hansen's house with his three kids and wife.

Hansen's family has welcomed the new addition and Egon even gets along with their other smaller dog, Hansen said.

Hansen said he and the dog have already formed a bond that he expects to grow as they patrol together.

"He follows me everywhere like a little kitty cat," Hansen said.

-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; trichardson@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @Ty_richardson

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