Officer Jon Richey - Molly

My name is Jon Richey. I am a police officer and the Head K9 Trainer for the Unified Police Department of Salt Lake. I presently work with a police bloodhound named Molly. She is the daughter of Cisco, a famous and very successful hound that served the Colorado Prison System.

I graduated from high school in 1982 and became the youngest police officer in the State of Utah in 1984 at the age of 19. In my 30-year career I have worked for four police departments and have personally trained and handled six different police dogs. I am an internationally certified K9 Handler, Instructor, and Judge and I also hold national certifications as a Bloodhound Handler and a Drug Dog Instructor. I am also qualified as an Expert Witness in the Federal Court System in matters related to K9 drug detection.

In 1988 I was recruited to the Salt Lake City Police Department to help start a new K9 Program there. I went on to work as a detective in narcotics, larceny, burglary, robbery and homicide. I promoted to sergeant and was immediately assigned to the Salt Lake Police K9 Squad. During my years working as a detective, I continued to work closely with several police K9 Units and I was very active in the German working dog sport called Schutzhund (protection dog). After serving as the K9 Sergeant for five years, I transferred to the position of Robbery Detective Sergeant. I held that assignment until I took my first retirement in 2007.

As a young K9 handler, I was fortunate enough to be partnered with one of the best police service dogs in the world! I‘m biased about that statement but my partner Drago who came into my family at 14 months of age, later competed in three different Countries. He won two international championships, five national (and/or North American) championships and countless regional and local competitions. Drago earned more separate working dog titles than any other service dog to my knowledge; 14 in all.

Much more important than Drago’s performance in competition was his accomplishments on the street. He was a fanatical drug detection dog with over 2.5 million dollars worth of illegal drug seizures. Drago sent more than 30 of Salt Lake’s most dangerous felons to the hospital for stitches before they went to jail and he only bit about 2% of the criminals that he located! Drago was mostly a search tool and occasionally a force option and he did not ever draw a foul in all of his work—not one internal affairs complaint and not one single lawsuit. Drago always knew what I was trying to accomplish as a cop and he knew exactly how to work as my partner in order to accomplish our objectives. I lost him to cancer after 13 wonderful years but I had more fun than any K9 handler should ever be allowed to have.

Later in my K9 career I became increasingly interested in the ability of a dog to follow a trail of human scent. I had always been taught that dogs could not successfully follow a trail of scent in a contaminated, urban environment over hard surfaces. My own experience contradicted this. My interest in the ability and application of the single- purpose trailing dog peaked. I began to focus on this discipline with my German shepherd, Oskar. I continued by working more frequently with bloodhounds, both because of their innate ability and desire to hunt and also because the bloodhound is not an aggressive breed. With this type of dog we were able to broaden the scope of our service to non-criminal cases such as missing persons, mental health patients, juvenile runaways and people disoriented due to certain medical conditions.

I began my second career with the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office. I decided to work one more dog in my career, a bloodhound. My partner Oliver was an amazing tracking hound but he weighed over 100 pounds. Over the years, I have taken a pounding while training hundreds of powerful police patrol dogs. This work caused progressive injury to my lower back and many of the trails that we followed crossed tall fences and other obstacles. Hoisting Oliver over these obstacles night after night began to take its toll. I needed a smaller hound with a work ethic equal to Oliver’s. I struck gold when I found Molly. Her parents were not from the show-lines that produced the larger bloodhound typically seen in the show ring. Working-line hounds are much smaller and are loaded with energy and stamina. Also, female dogs are normally smaller than their male counterparts. It was a difficult decision but I found Oliver a job, hunting down fugitives in Houston, Texas with an “ironman” handler and then I put my full-time energy into Molly.

Multi-purpose police dogs (German shepherd’s, Belgian Malinois, etc.) provide a wide range of services. They search buildings, neighborhoods and other open areas. They search for and find drugs and criminal evidence. They are trained to the highest levels of obedience and agility and are applied in a wide variety of tactical criminal apprehension situations. Their mere presence is often the key to motivate many criminals to surrender.

In contrast, the bloodhound is an extreme specialist. It does only one thing but does it like no other breed can. It simply follows a trail of human scent (which we recognize as invisible evidence) to locate a person. Because of its level of specialization, the bloodhound does not normally match the number of arrests made by a patrol dog.

The trails that Molly follows, however, are normally the most difficult. Her longest successful trail stretched out for several miles. So, Molly does not compete with the other dogs in our Unit. She does, however, add significant capability to the Unified Police Department by complimenting the work of her K9 counterparts. This allows the UPD to provide the widest range of K9 services possible.

Molly will continue to sniff out people, both good and bad, for many years to come as a proud member of the UPD K9 Unit. Meanwhile I will enjoy working with her and training with all of the other K9 teams in our Unit. One of my greatest pleasures is to participate in the successful deployments of each and every K9 Team that I have had the pleasure to work and train with.