KINGMAN – The police department’s newest K-9, Diesel, along with handler Officer Adam Simonsen, were introduced during the City Council meeting Tuesday evening.
Diesel is a 14-month-old Belgian Malinois/Dutch Shepherd. The 64-pounder was presented with his badge.
“It feels really good. It’s nice to be back in the saddle,” said Simonsen. “(Diesel’s) very well-tempered and has a lot of the same traits I would expect of any dog. I’m real excited to be working with him, and it looks like he’s going to work out just fine.”
Simonsen suffered a huge blow when K-9 Amigo died Aug. 20 after suffering heat exhaustion while tracking two injured hikers near White Cliffs. The tragedy caused a massive outpouring of support for the Kingman Police Department, Simonsen and Amigo.
T-shirts with Amigo printed on them sold out quickly, and the KPD was contacted by numerous individuals and groups wanting to help.
“It was probably one of the toughest things I’ve done,” recalls Simonsen of Amigo’s death. “He was 100 percent part of the family.”
That’s when Rodney Spicer of Gold Coast K-9 stepped up to the plate.
Spicer lost his personal dog, Rudy, after he was given to a police department in California. Rudy was stabbed to death, he said. So when he heard about Amigo’s passing, it “touched a nerve.”
Gold Coast, located in Moorpark, Calif., donated Diesel and five weeks of training.
“(Kingman Police Department) got an outstanding dog,” said Spicer. He added that Diesel is “very balanced” and “a very willing dog.”
Spicer explained that his company goes to Slovakia every five or six weeks to pick up dogs. On the trip when they purchased Diesel, he was one of nine brought back.
Simonsen, a seven-year Kingman Police Department veteran who previously worked at the Mohave County Jail, went through a rigorous five-week training program at Gold Coast K-9.
Simonsen called the training “awesome,” and it put Diesel in “real world” situations so he is up for the task.
Besides being able to smell 10,000 to 20,000 times better than a human and phenomenal tracking ability, Simonsen has added protection – a comrade is always with him.
“I’ve got a partner with me everywhere I go and somebody to watch my back as well,” Simonsen said.
“He’s part of the family. He gets along with the family really well. We have our own dogs here and he gets along with them really well,” he said.
Owning a K-9 takes up a lot of Simonsen’s time.
“Every day at work we are training. He goes everywhere I go at work. Even if it’s an off-day and we’re not going to use him, he still comes with me,” said Simonsen. Training takes up a couple of hours every day, not just work days. There are no breaks on holidays and vacations.
Sometimes hours will be spent tending to a dog. Simonsen recalls him and his wife picking cactus or stickers out of Amigo’s nose and feet.
“There’s just a lot of stuff behind the scenes that the general public just doesn’t see,” Simonsen said. “We’re excited to get out there and do what everyone expects us to do. (Diesel’s) up for the task and I’m up for the task.”