The men and women of Springfield Police Division this week are mourning the loss of one of their own — Rambo, the 8-year-old K-9 officer who was loved by the general public and loathed by suspects.
Rambo died Thursday from complications from cancer, the division announced via a Facebook post.
“He was an important member of our department and the community. He had a great life, doing what K-9s do, catching bad guys and finding drugs,” the post said.
Police Chief Steve Moody said Friday that Rambo was not only a police dog but an ambassador to the community, attending such functions as Culture Fest, Law Camp and Citizens Police Academy training sessions.
“It was almost like he had a community policing chip in his brain,” Moody said of Rambo’s ability to socialize with the general public while being tough on suspects upon command.
Rambo was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago, Moody said, but worked up until several days before his passing.
“He was so damn tough,” Moody said, likening Rambo’s work ethics to an athlete. “He just worked through the pain.”
Rambo and his handler, Officer Mike Fredendall, hit the street in 2006 and more than paid back the community’s investment in their first days when he hit on more than $100,000 cash during a drug investigation.
Rambo was purchased, supplied and trained through a combination of private donations and public funds and received free veterinary care from Dr. Dana King.
While Rambo’s passing has left a hole in the hearts of the community members he served and in the police division’s operations, neither will be without a police dog for long.
Earlier this month, the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association presented a $14,500 check of private donations and raised funds to the city and the police division for the purchase, training and outfitting of a new police dog. It’s expected to be patrolling Springfield streets later this year.
The police division will provide the cruiser and officer salary for the new unit.
The idea, CPAAA President Vickie Matthies said Friday, was to put a second unit on the street for coverage on different shifts and take some of the load off Rambo and Fredendall.
Moody said the hope was for Rambo to retire and live out the rest of his life doing what dogs do at home.
In the meantime, other Miami Valley agencies with a K-9 unit will help fill the void.
“Other organizations and agencies knew they could call for Rambo,” Moody said. “We know that if we need a K-9 officer, we can call on them.”
The alumni association raised about $20,000 at its second annual K-9 golf outing fundraiser last year and the remainder of that after the donation earlier this month, as well as any funds raised between now and the next golf outing, will go to funds for another police dog later, Matthies said.
Services for Rambo were not set as of Friday afternoon, but the Springfield Police Patrolmen’s Association was working with Littleton & Rue to establish plans, Moody said.
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