Washington County’s newest 4-legged crime fighter Falko arrives for training – while hero K-9 Tess retires

K-9 Falko, newest member of the Washington County K-9 Unit with handler, Deputy Scott Durphey, Washington County, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff's Office, St. George News

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Chosen from a pool of 40 potential hopefuls, the newest addition to the Washington County Sheriff’s K-9 team is a 1-year-old Malinois named Falko. Following training and certification, the duo will report for duty, replacing Tess, a K-9 hero, much beloved by the team, who is now retired.

Falko was purchased after sheriff’s deputies made a trip to the Alderhorst International LLC. facility, a police training and European K-9 import company in Jurupa, California.

“Adlerhorst has been producing some of the finest K9 deputies in the country,” sheriff’s spokesman Graham W. Hancock said in a news release.

After being presented with 40 eligible dogs from which to choose and training with eight promising canines during the selection process at the Alderhorst facility, Falko was the only animal sheriff’s Deputy Scott Durfey was drawn to, Hancock said, with the two making an “immediate and undeniable connection.”

Durfey wanted to make sure he was selecting the right dog for the job and one that he would work well with so he continued training with other K-9s. However, after three days of testing and training, Falko outperformed the other dogs in both enthusiasm and drive.

Once in Utah the Durfey family celebrated Falko’s first birthday together.

The two will attend Peace Officers Standards and Training in January, a two-month program to become certified narcotics detectors, to learn apprehension, evidence location and tracking techniques, as well as other facets of police work required for Post’s K-9 certification. Once certified they will continue training with Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Montgomery and his K-9 partner, Vinny.

“We would like to congratulate Deputy Durfey on his new assignment and welcome Falko to his new family and career,” Hancock said in the release, adding, “We wish the pair a safe and exciting partnership and look forward to working with them soon.”

Tess retires. 

Tess, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois, has worked for the Sheriff’s Office for nearly five years. She became an international hero after she was shot twice Aug. 29 while attempting to apprehend a suspect during a carjacking incident in Santa Clara. After receiving emergency treatment in the St. George area she was flown by Life Flight to Las Vegas where Las Vegas Metropolitan Police blocked down a road to expedite transfer of Tess to the vet clinic there for treatment. Tess made a full recovery and returned to duty in Washington County at the end of September.

Read more: St. George carjacking leads to multiagency police shootout; police K-9 and suspect shot

Washington County Sheriff’s K-9 Tess with her handler Deputy Mike Graf, photo location unspecified, September 2017 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Tess’s handler, Deputy Mike Graff, recently accepted a position with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office and relocated to northern Utah, leaving Tess without a handler, meaning Tess would go through a whole new training with a new handler.

Each time a K-9 is assigned a handler the two must go through training together, sheriff’s Lt. Dave Crouse said, so that the handler gets to know the dog and how that particular animal reacts and so the dog gets to know and bond with the handler. Both the handler and the dog must pass training. The dog must perform at top-notch level and the handler must demonstrate he can handle the dog. If only the handler and not the dog passes training, the handler must start the process over with another animal.

It is an “intense screening process,” Crouse said, “because we need to make sure that the dog won’t inadvertently bite someone or indicate to the handler an odor of narcotics when there’s not, for example.”

“By the time Tess would have been assigned to a new handler and completed the academy (with a new deputy), she would have been near retirement age; so in consideration of her age and other things, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office decided to sell her to her handler, (former sheriff’s) Deputy Graff.”

Graff and Tess were recently reunited at the Alderhorst facilities in California.

“Now she gets to be a house dog,” Crouse said.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.








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1 Comment

  • St Geo December 4, 2017 at 9:32 am

    Happy to hear that Tess and Deputy Graff are going to still be together. Well done Tess and welcome K-9 deputy Falko

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