Award-winning, Crime Fighting Police K9 Badge Headed for Retirement
Last updated 6/24/2020 at 12:14pm
After nearly eight years chasing bad guys and sniffing out drugs, Lake Wales Police K9 Badge is hanging up his collar. After his retirement, the Belgian Malinois is transitioning from working dog to family pet in the home of his handler, Officer Dale Hampton.
Badge basked in the attention at his retirement party Friday, June 19, playing with his stuffed toys and accepting "good boys" from about 50 people who came out to wish him well. The partygoers got to take home a special trading card, produced to commemorate Badge's long and award-winning career. The trading card says "Badge is by far the most loveable, vicious, playful, vocal, protective, loyal and award winning dog."
Badge has won dozens of U.S. Police Canine Association awards, including Top Dog in Florida and Number Two canine in the nation in 2015. Among the more than 100 awards and commendations, Badge also won first place many times in narcotic detection for the region.
"We had many apprehensions on the street, many robbers taken down, many drug apprehensions," Hampton said. "Now that he enters retirement he will just be loved on at the house and be able to spend time with the family instead of being outside in the kennel."
Hampton isn't retiring from the police department, but is closing out 14 years as a K9 handler. Before connecting with Badge five years ago, he served with K9 partners Rico, Boss and Deacon.
"I'm ready to let the younger generation excel at it and further my advancement," said Hampton, who has passed his sergeant's exam and is awaiting a supervisory position.
"Dale does a great job at everything he puts his heart into," said Deputy Chief Troy Schulze, "As a K9 handler he has made our department very proud - as a crime fighting team, as a public relations team, and in K9 competitions both locally and nationally. Dale has worked extremely hard to make our K9 Unit one of the best in the nation."
In addition to being on patrol, Hampton and Badge worked SWAT and narcotics. Hampton showed off Badge's K9 talents and take down skills at various community events, and the pair performed a hilarious skit at competitions, with Hampton dressed as a lady with a shopping cart.
"To say Dale has been a great handler is an understatement, and there are not enough words to describe his heartbeat and hard work in this unit," wrote Schulze on the department's Facebook page. "Not only is Dale a mentor to our K9 officers, but he enjoys an immensely great relationship with all of the K9 handlers in Polk County, and is leader and mentor to so many of them as well.
"If Dale wrote a book it would be stories of nerve-wracking moments, sadness, joy, fun, injury, happiness, pride . . . and that could even be all in one day! Dale will continue to write pages in his book of service in other assignments within the Department."
The police department has four other K9 officers, and Officer Emanuel Viera recently completed his training to take the department's newest dog, Hunter, on the road. Bad guys, beware!