Bow brings another dimension to Barnsdall law enforcement

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

BARNSDALL -- If you get anywhere near his specially marked police vehicle, Bow will give you an earful. He's an alert, 2-year-old Belgian Malinois working as a law enforcement K-9 for the Barnsdall Police Department.

Officer Rick Harper, who is Bow's handler, said the department acquired the dog from the U.S. military. Harper picked him up a few months ago at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio and drove him back to Oklahoma. Before the 10-hour drive to Oklahoma, Harper and Bow had no history with each other.

"We bonded really, really well," Harper said.

Bow will help the BPD address a drug problem that includes methamphetamine and heroin use in the town of slightly more than 1,100 people, Harper said. It has been a number of years since Barnsdall had a law enforcement K-9, he said.

The department has four full-time officers and is in the process of adding a third part-timer, Harper said. Bow gives BPD an advantage many small departments lack.

Barnsdall has received much-needed support from the Bartlesville Police Department, where Harper was able to attend an 80-hour K-9 handler school, and from other law enforcement agencies and supporters of law enforcement throughout Oklahoma.

Preston Harrell, owner of a roofing and construction company, was on hand last week to deliver to Horton several items of equipment important for properly outfitting and training law enforcement K-9s. Harrell, who is an administrator for an online law enforcement support group called Back the Blue Tulsa, said the Coweta Police Department had donated a bullet-proof protective vest for Bow's use that had previously been worn by a K-9 that was being retired from service.

"With a small P.D. like the one we've got, the program would be almost impossible to keep up with without help," Harper said, crediting Harrell and other interested parties with making a big difference in the ability of the Barnsdall agency to properly outfit and maintain Bow.

"This is really big to us," Harper said. "We're just a forgotten little place with a bad drug problem. I don't even know how to take all this. It's just amazing."