Kindergarten students at Overland Elementary meet a dog with a badge

Kindergarten students at Overland Elementary meet a dog with a badge

ROCK SPRINGS – Students in Sweetwater County School District No. 1 have unique visitors who stop and say “hi” throughout the school year. Students at Overland Elementary recently had one of the special guests.

Kindergarten students at the school had a special visit last week from Rock Springs Police Officer Mathew Register and his K-9 Partner, Gunner. Officer Register spoke to the students about what Police Officers and K-9 Officers do and even gave the students a demonstration of some of Gunner’s abilities.

The students got to ask questions, which staff at Overland said Officer Register answered with professionalism and grace even when asked questions like “what would happen if you tasered the basketball hoop?” Staff joked. “Ah, one of the wonderful things about kids, their honest curiosity.”

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Students and staff gave a huge thanks to Officer Register and Gunner for taking time out of their busy day to come visit Overland.

“We appreciate everything you and the rest of the RSPD do to keep us and our students safe every day!”

Rock Springs Police Chief Dwane Pacheco said the K-9 program is an important part of the RSPD.

“It is like having two officers in a car,” he said. “One with a super sniffer.”

While these dogs like Gunner are trained in police work, they also interact with the officer’s family and become more than a partner but a family member. As most residents know, the K-9 units are an important part of drug investigations but Pacheco explained they bring so much more to the table.

The dogs provide an added safety for officers. Many times these K-9 Officers can go into situations, allowing his human partner time to evaluate a dangerous situation while giving them a small buffer. They can also alert on possible situations a human officer might not see or be aware of.

Along with added safety, Pacheco said they are also trained and used in cases involving lost children or endangered adults who may walk away and get lost.

Another aspect the K-9 units bring is they are great public spokesmen, especially with the younger residents of the community.

“They are so valuable and such an asset to the community,” Pacheco said. “They really pay for themselves.”

While law enforcement has been in the news for a lot of negative reasons recently, the RSPD have had a strong history of working with the community, especially the young residents of the community. Pacheco said not only is it fun for the officers to get out and interact with the young students but it allows students to meet officers in a non-adversarial way.

Pacheco said the hope is by getting to know the local officers, the young residents will not be afraid of them when they see them on the streets and feel more confident to approach and talk to them. He added they want children to feel safe, secure and understand officers are there to help and protect them.

If you would like your school or group to meet local officers, K-9 units or take a tour of the local station Pacheco said call the department at 352-1581 and schedule a time.