Kathy Johnson

By

Man’s Best Friend in UK Law Enforcement Retiring

Published: Feb 18, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 18, 2014) ― Becka has been patrolling the University of Kentucky campus for a little over nine years. She has enhanced the safety of several Super Bowls, U.S. Opens, Kentucky Derbies and too many UK football and basketball games to count. She has even responded to terrorist threats, once traveling to Seattle to search ferries for explosives.

 

A graduate of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) 10-week explosive detection training program, Becka is one of three K-9 explosive detection officers in the UK Police Department, and UK's first K-9 officer. The 10-year-old Labrador retires her badge on Feb. 28.

 

Becka and her handler, UK Police Lt. Robert Turner, serve the campus, UK Athletics, and many national events. Becka is considered a federal K-9 officer through ATF, and Turner has been sworn in federally as a deputy marshal. They are on call for bomb threats, detecting explosives, protecting dignitaries, and sweeping campus buildings to ensure safety for students. Becka has more experience under her collar than many have under their belt.

 

On Friday, Feb. 28, Becka will be honored for her service to the UK community with a retirement ceremony at the University of Kentucky Police Department headquarters. Recently diagnosed with cancer, Becka is stepping out of the line of duty and into the path to recovery as she undergoes chemotherapy. She has been diagnosed with having a mast cell cancerous tumor in her lung. Lt. Turner and Becka will continue to be partners though, as he transitions from handler and co-worker to full-time caretaker and pet-owner.

 

“K-9s bring a sense of security,” said Turner when speaking on the sweeps Becka would conduct at events and on campus, making sure that everything is safe for the UK community.  “She is on patrol with me every day, in the car, regardless of what kind of call.”

 

UK is the only university in the state that has an explosives detection K-9 unit. Once Becka retires, there will be two K-9 explosives officers, but Turner says UKPD is currently looking into getting another dog for the unit.

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT:  Kathy Johnson, 859-257-3155 or kathy.johnson@uky.edu; or Whitney Harder, whitney.harder@uky.edu

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