2013-07-26 / People

Neighbors

Retirement of K-9 well deserved
By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer


Officer Scott Corbett and Harley Officer Scott Corbett and Harley Like any good veteran cop, Belgian shepherd Harley is having a tough time leaving his life on the force behind after his recent retirement.

Harley worked in the South Portland Police Department’s K-9 Unit from 2008 through June. Officer Scott Corbett, Harley’s handler and owner, decided it was time to call it quits when he noticed the 10-year-old shepherd slowing down with age.

“He still has it. If you go out and throw a ball, he’ll still spin on a dime, but you bring him back and he’s exhausted. He’s done for the next three or four hours,” Corbett said.

For the last three weeks, Harley has relaxed at home, spending family time with Corbett’s two children, 5 and 6, chasing down a ball in the yard or taking naps. Corbett said driving around South Portland without his partner in the car for the first time in six years has been tough.

“He’s with me, literally, 24 hours a day. He sleeps next to my bed. He goes when I bring the kids to school. He comes when I go out and do errands. He’s that third kid that I have.”

However, the retirement has been tougher on Harley, who is still not quite ready to give up police work. Corbett said when he leaves for work, Harley makes it clear he’s still ready to hop in the cruiser.

“He’s having a harder time adjusting to it than I am. Every time I leave the house he wants to go. Unfortunately for him he’s being stuck at home more often,” Corbett said.

Corbett has worked with the South Portland Police Department since 1998 and said he was always interested in drug enforcement. Ten years into his career in South Portland, the department needed a dog to join the force, and Corbett volunteered to become a K-9 officer.

Harley is trained to perform both patrol and drug duties, meaning he has tracked suspects running away from the scene of a crime, found evidence discarded in flight and tracked down drugs in vehicles.

His departure leaves two police dogs on the city’s K-9 unit, Sabre, handled by Officer Kevin Webster, and the newest addition to the team, Officer Kevin Theriault’s dog Trigger.

Corbett said one of the most prominent memories of Harley’s career was a vehicle stop in which the driver had empty gym bags with a strong smell of marijuana but contained no visible drugs. Harley and Corbett were called to the scene, and Harley was able to locate a small amount of marijuana under the center console, along with $15,000 in cash and a handgun.

“He just found something nobody else could find,” Corbett recalled. “That’s when the big rewards were, the big drug finds, when they weren’t going to do it without him. That’s when I took a lot of pride and satisfaction, when we found those things we worked so hard for.”

Some police dogs receive food as a reward for strong police work, but Corbett said all Harley ever needed was his toy.

“You found your dope, there’s your ball. You found the bad guy, there’s your ball. All he worked for is the ball. It’s such a small thing, but for him, it’s the world really when it comes down to it,” Corbett said.

Although it will take some time for Harley to make the adjustment to retirement, his low-key personality has made him a perfect family dog, as well as an able partner at work. According to Corbett, many police dogs can be high-strung because of the stressful nature of their work, but Harley was never that way.

“He was always more of a laid-back dog. I could bring him anywhere. My kids roll on him, hug him, push him. He doesn’t care,” Corbett said.

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